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*— ■ m a a m m mam world’s leading 

Fmf «/ m ^ science-fiction 

I'ir^t in Sck ncf Fiction • Since 1926 istoriesj MAGAZINE 

RICHARD C. MEREDITH S outstanding Novel 




Temple of Sorrow 

S-F and Escape Literature 

Future in Books 

plus stories by JOHN WYNDHAM 


These ^reat minds were Rosicrucians . . 

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Isaac Newton 

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Why were these men great? 

How does anyone — man or woman — achieve 
greatness? Is it not by mastery of the powers 
within ourselves? 

Know the mysterious world within you ! Attune 
yourself to the wisdom of the ages! Grasp the 
inner power of your mind ! Learn the secrets of a 
full and peaceful life! 

Benjamin Franklin, statesman and inventor. . . 
Isaac Newton, discoverer of the Law of Gravita- 
tion . . . Francis Bacon, philosopher and scientist 
. . . like many other learned and great men and 
women . . . were Rosicrucians. The Rosicrucians 
(NOT a religious organization) have been in 
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SOL COHEN, Publisher 

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LEON E. STOVER, Science Editor LILLIAN FRIEDENREICH, Subscription Manager 

AMAZING STORIES, Vol. 42, No. 5, JANUARY, 1969, is published bi-monthly by Ultimate Pub- 
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Confidence Trick, and Dream of Victory copyright 1953 and Don't Come To Mars, copyright 1950 
by Ziff-Davis Pub. Co. 



If ever a weary and overworked 
phrase deserved retirement from 
public circulation, it’s “escape 
literature.” That tag strikes me as 
redundant and needlessly pe- 
jorative, to use a couple of educated- 
sounding words. It deserves to be 
sent to the graveyard of empty 

The pejorative effect is one that 
every reader of science fiction has 
felt: the automatic put-down we got 
so often. “Oh, that’s only escape 
literature,’’ we hear, when trying to 
piersuade a Mend to sample the 
wares of a Heinlein or a Sturgeon or 
a Clarke. Condemning a book as 
“escape literature’’ seems to put it 
beyond the pale vwthout the need of 
further qualification. Anything fall- 
ing into that grim category is 
lumped lightheartedly in with such 
other “escape literature’’ genres as 
the spy story and the western, and 
is scorned as mere mental eyewash. 

“Escape literature,’’ then, is a nas- 
ty phrase among the dispensers of 
quick literature judgements. Which 
would be quite all right — ^nasty 
phrases are stock-in-trade for these a 
priori experts — except that this 
particular phrase is not only nasty, 
but meaningless as well. 

I hold that it’s a redundant 
phrase — that the term “literature” 
embodies the concept of escape. To 
stigmatize a book or a genre as 
“escape” literature, then, is actually 
to say nothing at all about it. It’s not 
an act of criticism to add an empty 
word to a meaningful one. 

I don’t wish to get into an argu- 
ment about the purpose of literature, 
which is a vexed and muddied sub- 

ject. But I am interested in the effect 
of literature. And let us, for the sake 
of this discussion, include as 
literature all forms of printed prose 
fiction. I’d rather characterize some 
things as “good” literature and 
others as “bad” literature than start 
trying to decide which classes of 
prose fiction deserve the name of 
literature and which do not. 

The effect of literature in general, 
I submit, is to draw the reader from 
the world he inhabits and into the 
world created by the author: that is, 
to permit escape. Take as tin ex- 
ample a work that no one will deny 
falls into the class “literature” — the 
lengthy novel by Marcel Proust 
known in English as Remembrance 
of Things Past. At the moment, no 
doubt, it is being read with eager in- 
terest by a young man in a Bays- 
water flat, by a girl in New Jersey, 
by a professor of mathematics in 
Australia. The novel has nothing 
to do with life in Bayswater, even 
less contact with the daily routine of 
existence in New Jersey, and does 
not mention Australia at all. 

Rather, it is a kind of time 
machine. It transports the reader to 
an alien culture of another 
era — some 80 years ago, in France 
— and gives him entry to a very 
special segment of French civiliza- 
tion. It carries him far from con- 
temporary troubles and lets him 
peek undetected at the vanities and 
posturings of people removed 
culturally, geographically, and 
temporally from our everyday ex- 

Yet who would call Remembrance 
of Things Past “escape literature”? 



Literature, yes. But escape 
literature? It provides escape, of 
course, just as effectively as though 
it were set on a planet of Alpha Cen- 
taur!; but no one thinks of it in those 
terms alone. 

All literature is escapist in effect. 
The more successful the writer is in 
providing escape — that is, in 
creating on paper a detailed, con- 
vincing, and enterable world — the 
more memorable his work will be as 

A novel’s escapist qualities, then, 
should not be cause for damning it 
outright. Through his art the great 
writer gives us escape, entry into an 
imagined world, temporary leave of 
absence from our familiar en- 
vironment. The untalented writer of- 
fers simple-minded escape into a 
world of flimsy, hastily-rigged 
cardboard props. The great writer 
creates a complete and unforgettable 
world, and thus lets lis return to our 
own world enhanced and enriched. 
The quality of the imaginative act, 
and not the locale or theme of the 
story, is the important criterion of 

Science fiction is escapist. Of 
course. All imaginative writing is 
escapist. Where the critics go astray 
is in attacking us for our 
escapism — a straw villiam — and not 
for our literary faults. At its best, s-f 
is magnificently escapist, and 
should glory in it. Who could not 
return from a visit to the world of 
Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth 
without feehng that he has seen 
through Vance’s The Dying Earth 
without feeling that he has seen 
through Vance’s eyes something 
strange and precious that had not 
previously been accessible to him? 
What of Stapledon’s escapist Last 


and First Men? S. Fowler Wright’s 
The World Below? Too much s-f is 
mere plotting-spinning, but when it 
succeeds as art, it succeeds not in 
spite of but because of its escapist 

S-F at its poorest is trivial and thin 
stuff which fails precisely because it 
is not escapist, because it deals too 
prosaically with things of today, 
with transient preoccupations and 
clinches. Its failure is a failure of the 
imagination. But at its finest, s-f of- 
fers a myriad of new worlds, worlds 
of the imagination, harbors for the 
mind seeking . . . escape. 

Escape is necessary. We escape 
from the city on weekends, we 
escape from our livelihoods for 
weeks at a time. The human 
organism, if it is to grow and pros- 
per, needs change, refreshment, 
periodic release. 

Literature offers one form of 
escape. Proust offers it, Balzac offers 
it, and so does this magazine. As 
long as the Critics on high get no 
closer to science fiction than is 
necessary to determine, redundantly 
and i>ejoratively, that is is “escape 
literature,’’ they will never under- 
stand what it is we look for, and 
what we sometimes find. Nor will 
they really comprehend the joys 
of fiction, science or otherwise. 
Readers of all ages have looked to 
the narrative art for many things — 
for moral instruction, for exercises 
in style, for comment on 
society — ^but mainly they seek win- 
dows into other worlds, by which I 
mean Proust’s world or Heinleins’s. 

We have an admirable exit route 
from daily woes. We call it science 

Escape literature? Of course! 


This is a splendid example of a kind of novel which is 
not seen in the category often nowadays: a freewheeling ex- 
trapolation, plotted like mad, written with passion and not 
embarassed to take in the widest possible scope. Richard Mere- 
piece of its subgenre and un-put-down-able; than which there 
is no higher praise for a novelist. 

First of two Parts 


Illustrated by DAN ADKINS 

You’ve heard of Breakaway Station 
of course. Who among us hasn’t 
been told the story of the planet that 
men call Breakaway, dry, dun-col- 
ored, barren, cold, lifeless, larger 
than Mercury, but smaUer than 
Mars, with a trace of vapor that 
could be called an atmosphere only 
by the most generous. It was the se- 
cond planet outward of a feeble 
yellow dwarf, a star with no name, 
only a number on the astronomical 
charts, UR-712-16, Breston Catalog, 

a set of coordinates, a place in time 
and space that made it essential to 
the survival of the human race. 

It was twenty-seven light-years 
from Earth, a link in the tenuous 
FTL communications chain to the 
half-dozen colonies of the Paladine, 
a link in the chain that defied the 
Einsteinian universe, and in that lay 
its imp>ortance. 

You know the names of the ships, 
those three starships that limped to 
Breakaway from the Paladine. The 



huge, cumbersome Rudoph Crag- 
stone, hospital ship, carrying within 
its metal gut the thousands of half- 
dead who had bearly survived the 
fighting in the Paladine, now in old- 
sleep, most of them, but some crew- 
ing the ship, aware of their agony, 
aware too that in the hospitals of 
Earth enough of them might be put 
back together to be sent out again in- 
to the Paladine, back out to face the 
JiUies, to fight again, and die again, 

And escorting the hospital ship 
were the two heavy battle cruisers, 
or rather what was left of two heavy 
battle cruisers, half dead like most of 
their officers and crews, patched 
together just enough to get them 
across the blackness to Earth, there 
to be put back together, to be sent 
again into the Paladine, the League 
starships Iwo Jima and Pharsalus. 

And you know the names of the 
men and women, the half-dead who 
manned those ships, for their names 
are now a part of our heritage and 
rank along with those of Leonidas 
and his Spartans, and Horatius of 
the bridge, and Barret Travis and 
Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett in 
Texas, and the Lost Battalion in the 
Argonne. And you know the name of 
the man who led them — man, half- 
man, half-prosthetic, little more 
than a nervous system, heart, lungs, 
some bone and muscle and flesh, 
and the rest machine, but for all that 
a man — the name of Absolom 

But what do you know of the 
minds and hearts of those men and 
women, those half-dead who met the 
JiUies at Breakaway Station? What 

fears and hopes and pains were 
within them when the squat, ugly, 
alien warships came down on Break- 
away? How badly did they want to 
live when they died? 

And what were the thoughts of 
Absolom Bracer when he met the 
Jillie warships there? How can you 

Don’t ask me who I am, how I 
know. "We all died at Breakaway Sta- 


The tri-D sensors that served as 
the eyes of LSS Captain Absolom 
Bracer regarded the projection in the 
tank, the view of space before the 
starship, a great, endless blackness 
speckled with stars, one, a yellow 
dwarf, standing out far more bright- 
ly than the others, sharp and 
distinct, a tiny disk now, a disk that 
grew perceptably as he watched. 

. . . captain . . . said the star- 
ship’s Organic Computer, its “voice” 
sounding within his mind, . . . 
star drive will be cut in exactly five 
minutes in accordance with your 
instructions . . . 

. . . very good . . . Absolom 
Bracer replied, the shifting elec- 
tromagnetic fields of his brain being 
detected by sensors, then amplified, 
then used to modulate a radio carrier 
transmitted by a tiny unit within the 
artificial cavity of his prosthetic 
skuU, ultimately received by a 
similar unit that was a part of the 
make-up of the thing that was Roger, 
the Organic Computer. CEMEARS, 
it was called — Cerebral Elec- 
tromagnetic Emmission Amplifica- 
tion and Relay System — call it 
artificial telepathy, if you like. 

... all stations check normal 
. . . Roger said. 

Normal, thought Absolom Bracer, 
pain firom a nonexistent thigh slow- 
ly, sadistically creeping up his spine. 
Normal for what? Where? Normal 
for this wreck of a starship. On any 
other ship the Iwo Jima’s norm 
would be interpreted as disaster. 

. . . very good ... he replied. 
. . . keep me posted . . . 

Five minutes and we’ll be back in 
normal space. We’ve gotten through 
this much of the voyage safely. I 
wonder if there’s any news from 
Mothershed. Breakaway ought to 
know. How are things at Breakaway, 
1 wonder. Any more JUlies? It seems 
like they’d come back after puUing a 
stunt like that. Can’t understand 
why they’d attack in the first place if 
they didn’t mean to really finish the 
station off. But who can understand 
anything the Jillies do? 

I hope Reddick can control him- 
self better. I can’t afford another 
scene like that one this morning. Got 
to maintain discipline on the bridge. 
Dammit, 1 know he’s in pain — but 
who isn’t? He’s a good officer; 1 need 
him on the bridge. Hop)e he can hold 
together until we get home. 1 hope 
we aU can. Dammit, 1 do! 

Around him his bridge officers 
and crewmen continued their 
shallower contact with Roger and 
the mechanical computer he super- 
vised, counting down the minutes, 
the seconds until the starship came 
out of star drive. 

The little toe on my left foot itches 
like hell. But how can it itch? How 
can you be bothered by something 
you don’t have? Damn those doctors! 
Seems like they could have done 



something about that. It’s bad 
enough not to have those parts; it’s 
bad enough to remember how it was 
to have them; but it’s worse to be 
fooled into thinking you still do by 
blotched up nerves. It’s like wanting 
a woman, or thinking I do. Can I 
really want sex without the organs, 
glands, whatever-the-hell? Or do I 
just intellectually think I do? Do I 
just remember how it was and want 
to feel that way? Want to feel Uke- 
— like a man . . . God, am I losing 
my mind? No, I can’t. That’s about 
all I’ve got left. I’ve got to hold on to 
that. We’ve all got to hold on. Oh, 
Lord, it’s just two more weeks to 
Earth. We can hold out that long. 

Biting his lower hp to feel a sensa- 
tion that he knew to be real. Bracer 
scanned his bridge officers, observ- 
ing them briefly through the tri-D 
sensors that relayed the Ught-and- 
dark patterns, the array of reflected 
polychromatic light to his brain; and 
he thought that he had not yet ad- 
justed to the appearance of the 
officers who ran his ship, perhaps he 
never would get used to that. But, 
then, they probably hadn’t gotten 
used to the appearance of their cap- 
tain either. Would they? 

First Officer Daniel Maxel had no 
arms, no shoulders, no chest; his 
head rested on a gray sphere of 
metal and plastiskin that enclosed 
what was left of his upp)er torso, and 
from that sprouted two arm-Uke 
manipulative app>endages. No at- 
tempt had been made to give Maxel’s 
prosthetics a “human” app)earance; 
too much war, mutilation and death 
had overcome such luxuries as that. 
Yet his heavy, almost handsome 
Slavic features were somehow 

serene, almost smiling as he sat 
before his command console, observ- 
ed his counterpart of the captain’s 
console, while an artificial heart 
pmnp)ed borrowed blood thought his 
body, artificial lungs breathed for 
him, artificial . . . 

Astrogator Bene O’Gwynn had lit- 
tle that could be called a face. There 
were still eyes within her skuU; 
somehow they had survived the 
bums and blasting that had taken 
away her lower jaw, her ears, part of 
her skuU, that had taken off her left 
arm and left breast, that had remov- 
ed half her left leg. A mouth had 
been fashioned with the plastiskin 
egg that covered her mined head, 
and a voice box that spwke harshly, 
coarsely, yet still somehow retaining 
the delicacy of si)eech that she had 
once had, when she was whole and 
beautiful, so he was told. 

Weapx)ns Control Officer Akin 
Darbi appeared to be almost a 
normal man, unless you knew that 
his torso was filled with prosthetic 
organs, replacing the stomach, in- 
testines, glands that an energy beam 
had burned from his abdomen. 

Officers of the bridge, Absolom 
Bracer thought, hospital cases only 
slightly better off than those in cold- 
sleep in the Cragstone. And what of 
their captain? Absolom Bracer smil- 
ed a twisted, cynical, almost 
loathing smiled. Yes, what of their 

Bracer knew what his reflection 
would have shown: a shiny meter- 
tall cylinder of metal supporting 
what was left of the upp>er torso of a 
man. Below the waist there was very 
little of Absolom Bracer left: a few 
bones, a little living flesh, a col- 



lection of tangled nerves that con- 
tinually throbbed their pain, their 
loss. Above the cylinder: a spine, 
ribs, lungs, heart, shoulders, an arm, 
the right one; a prosthetic grew from 
the left shoulder, delicately, 
wonderfully wired into his nervous 
system, so well done that he often 
forgot that the arm was not really his 
own, but one loaned him by the ac- 
cursedly efficient doctors of Adrian- 
opolis. What else? Well, he had most 
of his jaws, upper and lower, a little 
of his cheek bones, about half his 
skull, and all of his brain, yes, most 
important of all, his brain. Metal and 
plastiskin completed the picture, a 
globe that covered what had once 
been his upper face, and two glit- 
tering lenses that served as eyes; 
with these he looked out through the 
pain, the loss, and saw the unvierse 
outside, and cursed it, yet went on, 
commanded the starship — ^back to 
Earth, back to the hospitals that 
could take even such a wreck as Ab- 
solom Bracer and budd it back into 
something that would pass for a 
human being. 

And there was pain. That was the 
one real fact of existence. Pain. For- 
ever. Continuously. A red-gray fog 
that grew greater at times, and at 
other times grew less, but that was 
always there. Pain that kept him on 
the edge of screaming. Pain that 
heightened rather than dulled his 
senses. Pain that had almost become 
a part of him. 

He should have been in the 
Cragstone, in the semi-death of cold- 
sleep, unconscious, unconcerned, 
unknowing, resting like the dead un- 
til his mangled body arrived at Earth 
where . . . 

But he knew, oh, so well, he knew: 
“We have no starship captains, no 
whole men that we can spare from 
the war. Put Captain Bracer in shape 
to command. We can’t spare anyone 
else to go back to Earth.” 

And the doctors ahd done that 
(eternally damn them!), had taken 
what there was of him, and added to 
that the portable devices that would 
serve as the organs he lacked, and 
had told him that he could make it. 
And when he asked for drugs to ease 
the pain, they said, sorrifully, he 
supposed, that they could give him 
no drugs, for drugs would dull his 
mind, slow his reactions — -and pain 
would keep him aware, give him the 
slight edge that might keep him and 
his ships alive until they reached 
Earth. Oh, thank you, doctors! 

Then the admirals placed him on 
the bridge of the Iwo Jima, gave him 
a handful of officers and a crew in 
little better shape than himself, gave 
him another warship hkewise out- 
fitted, gave him the hospital sbip 
Rudoph Cragstone to escort, and 
aimed them all Earthward. 

“We will give you cover into in- 
terstellar space,” the admirals had 
said. “Once clear of the system and 
into star drive you should be able to 
avoid any JiUie warships.” 

So, with his orders, and his pain, 
Absolom Bracer and his three star- 
ships lifted from Adrianopohs of the 
Paladine, aimed toward dim and dis- 
tant Sol, and went into star drive, 
moving in microjumps of fantastic 
pseudospeed, motionless motion, 
across the dark universe. 

Now the trip was nearly a third 
over. The sun of Breakaway Station 
swelled in the tanks. The worst 



danger was past. At least the ad- 
mirals had told him it would be, but 
then it is not always wise to believe 
all that admirals say. They have a 
job to do too. 

. . . captain . . . the mental 
voice of the O.C., Roger, rang within 
his skull. . . . one minute to cutoff 
star drive . . . 

. . . acknowledge . . . 

His right hand — the real one- 
— automatically fell across the all- 
call switch of the console before him. 
And as automatically he spoke: 

“Attention all hands. This is the 
captain. Star drive will be cut in one 
minute. All hands at stations. Full 

And he wondered how many of his 
crew had hands, real hands, and not 
prosthetics. Hands! 

To Roger: . . . begin coun- 
ting . . . 

The voice of the Organic Com- 
puter, pieced modulations, snips of 
the sounds of the voice of a man, 
confident, reassuring, father-like, 
began counting down the seconds 
until star drive was cut, until the 
three starships ceased their mo- 
tionless motion, ceased micro- 
jumping through universes, return- 
ed to normal and real space-time. 

Wish I could let the crew have 
shore leave at Breakaway. Might do 
them good to blow off a little steam. 
But, as the doc says, it might be even 
worse than being cooped up in this 
ship — to see normal people, men 
and women, with the proper number 
of arms and legs and eyes. In our lit- 
tle universe we’ve sort of adjusted to 
the idea that no one has the number 
of things he ought to have. What 
would happen if they — ^we — I — saw 

normal . . . That’s enought of 
that! We don’t have the time for 
shore leave anyway. 

Bracer touched a switch on the 
console before him. 

“Yes, captain,” replied the voice of 
Eday Cyanta, the legless com- 
munications officer. 

“As soon as star drive is cut, see if 
you can raise Breakaway Station.” 

“Yes, sir,” the communications 
officer replied. “I’m already on fre- 
quency, and will begin transmitting 
immediately after cutoff.” 

“Very good.” 

‘Thirty seconds,” said the audible 
voice of Roger the O.C. 

A third of the way back. Bracer 
thought. -Thirteen light-years of it 
behind us. Twenty-seven still to go. 
Pick up the wounded here, stow 
them in the Cragstone, move on 
toward Earth. It’s not going to be so 
bad if we aU keep our heads. 

Wonder how Mothershed’s doing. 
Wonder if he’s even still alive. Good 
chance he isn’t. The JUlies probably 
caught him a long time ago. But, 
God, I wish I were with him ! 

“Fifteen seconds.” 

A faming pain flickered in the 
ends of severed nerves, a place 
where a primitive and unreasoning 
part of his mind thought his left 
thumb was, but where he knew was 
nothing, nothing at all. He bit his 
lower lip, cursed the doctors, wished 
they’d allowed him drugs, knew it 
was best that they hadn’t, and curs- 
ed the admirals on Adrianopohs, 
and particularly Admiral Ommart, 
for making it all necessary. 

“Star drive out.” 

That last comment from Roger 
had been totaUy superfluous. No one 



had to be told that he was coining 
out of star drive. You knew that in 
your bones; in the very marrow of 
your being you knew that the star 
drive was no longer operating, that 
the universe was again the universe 
and not some meaningless in- 
between Umbo that could not be ex- 
pressed in words, only in mathe- 
matical symbols. Oh, how obsolete 
language is in the day of star travel. 

Bracer looked over toward the 
communications officer, saw the 
tank before flickering as she at- 
tempted to estabUsh visual contact 
with the personnel of Breakaway 

. . . orders, captain? . . . Roger 

. . . stand by . . . Bracer 
replied. Then, into the microphone: 
“This is the captain. We are now out 
of star drive and approaching Break- 
away Station. The ship will remain 
on full alert until we have establish- 
ed orbit. That is all.” 

By this time there was 
recognizable image in the com- 
munications officer’s tank. 

“Give it to me,” Bracer said. 

Moments later the com- 
munications tank in his own console 
came to Ufe, flickered, then cleared, 
reveaUng the three dimensional im- 
age of a heavy-set, middle-aged man 
wearing the insignia of a com- 
mander in the Communications 
Corps, Armed Forces of the Gal jan 

“Commander, this is Captaiii 
Absolom Bracei, commanding 
officer of the LSS Iwo Jima, registry 
number TU-819, flagship of Hospital 
Convoy 031, out of Adrianopolis, 
bound for Earth, flight 311-68.” All 

this Bracer said as an expected 
formaUty; aU the necessary in- 
formation had already been 
automatically beamed to Breakaway 
in the identification signals broad- 
cast mircroseconds after coming out 
of star drive. “1 think you’re ex- 
pecting us.” 

“Yes, sir,” repUed the image 
within the tri-D tank. “You’re 
matching your ETA within several 
hours. Did you have a good trip 
out?” There was an odd edge to the 
commander’s voice, something 
which Bracer attributed to the half- 
human, half-machine appearance 
that he himself presented to the 

“Good enough,” Bracer replied. 
“No Jillies, if that’s what you mean.” 

“I’m glad to hear that, sir,” said 
the communications officer on the 
distant planet, and again with that 
edge to his voice. 

Something’s eadng that man. 
Bracer told himself. 

“Oh, pardon me, captain. I’m 
Arthur Lasin, Breakaway’s comm 

“Glad to meet you, commander,” 
Bracer said, and then went on slow- 
ly, probingly, wondering whether 
the relief convoy that had preceded 
his own three ships by a week was 
somehow connected with the com- 
mander’s discomfort: “I trust that 
Captain Donnelson arrived safely.” 

“Captain Bracer,” Commander 
Lasin began slowly, “I suggest that 
you discuss this with General 

Bracer felt the breath of a cold 
night wind where his stomach 
should have been. 

“Very well,” he replied at last. 



“Connect me with your commanding 

“I believe he’s in his office, cap- 
tain,” the communications officer of 
Breakaway Station stammered. 
“Please stand by.” 

The image in the tri-D tank faded 
out, replaced by a dim grayness, 
crossed by the random bright sparks 
of stellar noise, the meaning less 
chatter of the mindless stars. 

Oh, dear God, don’t teU me that 
the relief convoy never made it. TTiat 
convoy left a week before we did. 
Should have been here six, seven 
days ago. Three battle cruisers and a 
freighter. The JiUies couldn’t have 
stopped it, couldn’t have prevented 
it from reaching Breakaway with 
those supplies and equipment and 
men. God, it couldn’t have hap- 

And another part of Bracer’s mind 
said slowly, coMy, bitterly: The hell 
it couldn’t have! 

“Mr. Maxel,” Bracer said sud- 
denly, turning toward his first 

“Yes, sir.” 

“We will proceed to Breakaway 
Station,” Bracer siad. “Get there as 
quickly as possible, and don’t worry 
about reaction mass. Breakaway can 
resupply us. Establish polar orbit at 
five hundred kilometers. Watch out 
for the energy transmission. Make 
sure we don’t intercept it. 
Coordinate with Cragstone and 
Pharsalus. And, Dan, maintain the 
crew on full alert until I say other- 

“Yes, sir,” First Officer Maxel 
replied, nodding and turning to the 
console before him, bridge lights 
reflecting from the metal and 

plastiskin sphere of his upper torso, 
and began to direct commands to the 
ship’s sections. 

Now, within his mind, Absolom 
Bracer spoke: . . . Roger, what do 
you think? . . . 

There was a thoughtful silence 
before the ship’s Organic Computer 
answered through the CEMEARS 
net. . . . I’m not sure, sir. Prior to 
our leaving Adrianopolis there were 
no reports of JiUie activity in this 
sector following their raid of several 
weeks ago . . . 

... no reports . . . Bracer 

... of course, captain, that 
doesn’t mean that there aren’t JiUies 
near, waiting to intercept relief from 
the Paladine . . . 

. . . that convoy hasn’t made it, 
has it? . . . Bracer asked. 

. . . I’ve already established con- 
tact with the computer on Break- 
away . . . Roger said through the 
CEMEARS, . . . and they report 
that the convoy is now a week over- 
due . . . 

. . . but why would the JiUies at- 
tack only the convoy? . . . Bracer 
asked. ... if they had the strength 
to stop those ships, they had the 
strength to take Breakaway Station. 
HeU, Roger, why do the JiUies do any 
of the things they do? But why 
should I ask you? You’re no more 
capable of thinking the way they do 
than I am . . . 

. . . true, captain, but they’re 
stUl rational creatures . . . 

. . . are they? . . . 

... to an extent, of course. At 
least as rational as we are. TotaUy ir- 
rational creatures don’t buUd star- 
ships, sir . . . 



. . . okay . . . Bracer 
thought, . . . but what is their ra- 
tional reason for destroying the con- 
voy, if they did, and not destroying 
Breakaway? . . . 

. . . well, sir, i)erhaps they don’t 
want Breakaway, as such. It may be 
that they want the ships, and they’re 
using Breakaway as bait ... 

. . . yes, it could be . . . Bracer 
paused for a moment. . . . look, 
Roger, what do you really figure the 
odds are that the convoy was ac- 
tuaUy intercepted by a Jillie patrol? 
That isn’t the only possibility, is 
it? . . . 

. . . that’s hard to say, sir. Since 
Breakaway station’s computers don’t 
know any more than we do, we can 
assume that neither does Adriano- 
polis, otherwise Breakaway station 
would have been informed . 

... I know. Just give me an idea 
of the percentages involved . . . 

. . . this can’t be anything more 
than an educated guess, sir . . . 

. . . that’s better than 
nothing . . . 

. . . very well, sir. I’d say a high 
probability of enemy activity, on the 
order of 72 per cent or better. About 
22 per cent probability of 
mechanical trouble on one or more 
ships, forcing them to turn back. 10 
p>er cent probability of astorgation 
errors. 3 per cent . . . 

. . . okay, roger, that’s 
enough . . . 

The communications tank in the 
captsdn’s console had begfun to 
resolve again, now presenting the 
image of a thin, lean man with 
graying hair, deep-set eyes, thin lips, 
and the uniform of a brigadier 
general. Communications Corps. 

“Captain Bracer?” the image ask- 

“Yes, sir. How do you do, 

“Well enough, captain. I’m 
Herbert Crowinsky, commanding 
officer of Breakaway Station. We’ve 
been expecting your ships. We have 
a large number of, ah, wounded 
needing shipment to Earthside 

“I know, sir,” Bracer began. “We 
should be in orbit in an hour or so; 
you can begin shuttling them up at 
any time, sir.” 

‘Thank you, captain,” Crowinsky 
said, forcing the ghost of a smUe on- 
to his drawn features. 

“General, it appears that your 
relief convoy from Adrianopolis has 
failed to arrive,” Bracer said slowly. 

“I’m afraid that’s true, captain. I 
don’t suppose that you have any 
knowledge of its whereabouts?” 

“No, sir, not since leaving 
Adrianopolis. What do they say.” 

“They’re as much in the dark as 
we are,” Crowinsky said sharply. “In 
essence, they’ve told us to wait and 
be patient. Relief will com- 
e — eventually.” 

Bracer attempted as much of a 
nod as was possible with his present 
physiology. “How are conditions 
there, sir?” 

“In the Paladine?” Crowinsky 
asked. “About the same as when you 
left, apparently. The Jillies at- 
tempted a raid on Cynthia three 
standard days ago, but were halted. 
There were some pretty heavy losses 
on both sides.” 

“They’re getting bold, aren’t they, 



‘They’ve always been bold, 
haven’t they, captain?” 

Bracer reflected for a moment. 
“Yes, bold, but never foolhardy.” He 
paused. “Is there any word from 
Mother shed’s expedition?” 

Crowinsky looked almost startled 
for a moment. “I’m surprised you 
know about that, captain. It isn’t 
supposed to exactly be public 

Bracer smiled bitterly below the 
gray globe that covered the upper 
half of his face. “I was originally 
scheduled to command the second 

“Oh?” Crowinsky said awkwardly. 

“The Jillies made that im- 
possible,” Bracer said slowly, 
caustically, painfully. 

“I understand, captain,” General 
Crowinsky replied, something 
between pity and embarrassment in 
his voice. 

“I’m sure you do, general,” Bracer 
replied, ashamed of himself, but still 
unable to keep the sarcasm out of his 
voice. How do you understand it, 
general? he asked silendy. You in 
your nice, comfortable desk job out 
here in the middle of nowhere, safe 
and . . . Then he remembered the 
JiUie raid on Breakaway Station of 
three weeks earlier, the raid that had 
destroyed most of the station’s 
defenses and over half its personnel, 
that left it very open and exposed to 
another attack, an attack that would 
surely destroy Breakaway Sta- 
tion — and the so-called FTL com- 
munications chain to Earth and the 
- heart of the League. No, Absolom, he 
crowinsky isn’t safe and secure as 
you might like to think he is. 

“Anyway, sir,” he spoke aloud 

again, “Admiral Mothershed’s ex- 
pedition is common knowledge in 
the Paladine now.” 

“I should have known it would be. 
You can’t keep something like that a 
secret for very long. But to answer 
your question, captain, no, we’ve 
heard nothing recently, nothing one 
way or the other.” 

“’Then there’s still hope,” Bracer 
said, more to himself than to 

“Of course. As they say, captain, 
‘no news is good news.’ ” 

“I certainly hope so.” 

Crowinsky paused for a moment 
before speaking again. 

“Well, Captain Bracer, you can 
have your astrogator give my people 
your anticipated orbit. We will want 
to start shutding up our cold- 
sleepers at once.” 

“Yes, sir. Of course.” 

“If I don’t have another op)- 
portunity, please let me wish you, 
your officers and your crews a 
pleasant trip to Earth.” 

“Thank you, general, and good 
luck to you.” 

When the image of the Breakaway 
general had faded from the tank. 
Bracer spx)ke briefly to Maxel, told 
him to instruct Astrogation Ofiicer 
Bene O’Gwynn to contact the other 
ships, confirm their anticipated 
orbits around Breakaway, and then 
inform the ground p>ersonnel of 

Once he had relinquished func- 
tional command of the starship to 
his first officer, Absolom Bracer at- 
tempted to relax, leaning back 
against the cushion that rose from 
the rear of his body cylinder, and 
provided a suppwrt for his shoulders 



and back. Then he looked at the 
main forward viewing tanks where 
the brown-gray ball of Breakaway 
was now growing, a disk outlined 
against the blackness, a parody of a 
world, a mocker of Earth and 
Adrianopwlis, a leer on the face of 
the universe — a universe that con- 
tinued to leer and mock at the fragile 
bipeds from Sol’d third planet. 

A tvidsting, stabbing pain came up 
from some unidentifiable place 
below his waist, tearing through 
what was left of ruined flesh, and 
then inched up his spine, slowly, 
like a malelevolent insect devouring 
its way to the soft, juicy tissues of his 
brain. Bracer bit his hp and tried to 
ignore the pain and cursed a sadistic 
universe for it. 

What’s become of the convoy from 
the Paladine? he asked himself. 
Roger had given him a kind of an 
answer, in his calm, not-quite- 
human way; 72 per cent probability 
of enemy activity. Jillies! The Jillies- 
— God eternally damn their souls, if 
they had a god, and if they had souls 
behind those inhuman faces — ^the 
Jillies had found those ships of the 
relief convoy from Adrianopolis 
somewhere out there in the darkness 
between the stars, had intercepted 
them, had swung down on them, 
blasted with energy cannon and 
nukes and plasma torpedos, and a 
lot of good men had died. 

Died . . . died . . . died . . . 
There in the coldness and hell, in 
the darkness and blazing light, filled 
with hatred and fear, and then 
pain . . . pain . . . pain. They 
had died, shattered, broken, limbs 
tom apart, bodies ruptured by the 

vacuum, blood boiling away into the 
nothingness, eyes bursting . . . 
Out there, attacked by the Jillies, 
men had died in great agony. 

And Absolom Bracer knew how it 
was to die that way, to die as those 
men had died — for he himself had 
died that way. Once he had died, his 
ship blasted apart by a rain of 
plasma torpedos and nuclear 
missiles from an attacking JUUe war- 
ship; he had died in flames and 
vacuum. He had died, but not 

Robots had salvaged what was left 
of a dead captain, stuffed those 
mutilated fragments into a cold- 
sleep coffin and waited until another 
human ship found the wreckage, fer- 
ried the ruined crew back to 
Adrianopolis. And there, under the 
surgeons’ lasers and knives Absolom 
Bracer had been brought back to life, 
what there was left of him. 

He wondered whether it was 
worth it. 

He looked up again at the image of 
Breakaway in the tank at the front of 
the starship’s bridge, the dun-col- 
ored world, and wondered why men 
had come there to Uve, and to die, 
there on such a barren and forbid- 
ding ball of stone as that — but he 
knew why, intellectually he knew 


An hour and a half later the shut- 
tles began arriving from the planet 
below, matching orbits with the 
huge hospital ship Rudoph Crag- 
stone, rendezvousing, transferring 



the dead and half-dead from the 
shutdes to the enormous starship. 

After a tour of his own ship, a stop 
at sick bay for a routine medical 
check, a brief, unpalatable meal, 
Absolom Bracer had returned to the 
bridge where he could better watch 
the shuttling process in the large 
tanks. Now he “stood” at the modifi- 
ed command position, his hands 
resting on the now inactive controls, 
his living right hand, his 
mechanical left, letting his mind run 

One week out of Adrinopolis, he 
thought as he had thought so many 
times during the past hour, and two 
weeks to Earth. A third of the way 
home, and now almost out of that 
portion of space most heavily 
menaced by the JiUies — and without 
trouble so far. Pray to God we don’t 
run into any trouble. Could we 
handle it? How much could we 
handle? —What could we take 
before ... 

He purposefully cut off that train 
of thought and looked at the tanks 
that showed composite views of 
Breakaway and near space. The 
three starships and the planetary 
shuttles were now passing over the 
planet’s northern pole, the il- 
luminated portion of the planet on 
Bracer’s right, the night side on the 
left. Breakaway’s axis was inclinded 
some 29° , and it was now summer in 
the northern hemisphere, long 
shadows arching down across the 
top of the planet, down across the 
pole and over into the dark side, the 
pole a land of midnight suns. 

On Breakaway’s illuminated side 
light reflected from the huge com- 

plex of structures in the northern 
hemisphere, visible even from five 
hundred kilometers up. Domes of 
metal and paraglas sparkled in the 
midday light giving the barren world 
an appearance of life that it only 
partially possessed. 

Below the curve of the planet, in- 
visible to Bracer during this part of 
the orbit, ringing the equator, were 
the nearly twenty thousand square 
kilometers of solar receptors, the 
source of the basic power that began 
the vast and complex process that 
took place on the dry, barren world. 
North from the power receptors, 
where light energy was converted to 
electrical energy, ran great trunk 
lines that carried the megavolts of 
electricity from the receptors to the 
main power station where that elec- 
trical energy was used to initiate the 
process of generating even more 
power, where atoms were stripped of 
their electrons, and then the naked 
nuclei were smashed, broken apart 
into the component particles, and 
the raw power of those particles con- 
sxuned. Thus the substance of the 
world called Breakaway was 
devoured to provide men with the 
energy needed to talk across the 
distances between the stars. 

From the glint that represented 
the huge main power station. 
Bracer’s mechanical eyes followed 
an invisible line of power conductors 
northward to the pole, up to the 
huge modulation station that was 
the reason for this enormous power 
generation, up to the faint violet 
glowing of ionized atoms in Break- 
away’s thin atmosphere, the shaft of 
light that climbed skyward. 



High above the planetary system’s 
plane of the ecliptic, situated almost 
directly above the north pole of 
Breakaway’s sun, but millions of 
kilometers away from that yeUow 
dwarf, was an artificial world over a 
kilometer in diameter. ’This tiny 
worldlet, enormous artifact, was em- 
bedded in a huge complex of cables, 
braces, metal tubes that extended 
some dozens of kilometers into space 
around it, the receiving and trans- 
mitting antennas of the relay sta- 
tion, the purpose of Breakaway Sta- 

From Adrianopolis to Earth: near- 
ly forty light-years. Between 
Adrianopolis and Earth were eight 
stations such as Breakaway, eight 
relays receiving, amplifying, trans- 
mitting and retransmitting the beam 
of electromagnetic energy that con- 
nected the worlds. This was the FTL 
communications chain from the 
Paladine, leading to Earth. Similar 
chains of energy led to Earth from 
other portions of the sky. All major 
human colonies were so connected 
to Earth. All paths led to Earth. 

Gigawatts of power generated at 
the power station in Breakaway’s 
northern hemisphere were fed to the 
modulation station at the planet’s 
pole. From the modulation station 
this power was beamed skyward 
toward the relay station some 
millions of kilometers away — after 
several very important things were 
done to it. 

It was something like this: in- 
coming signals were received by the 
relay satellite above Breakaway’s 
sun, those signals were 
demodulated, at least to the extent 
that could be impressed on ordinary 

radio beams rather than sub- 
spectrum waves. 'This intelligence, 
beamed down to the modulation sta- 
tion at Breakaway’s north px)le, was 
fed through computers, and again 
demodulated another step down- 
— ^here information directed to 
Breakaway was subtracted, outgoing 
information added, random, non-in- 
telligible noise clipped away. Then 
the intelligence was used to 
modulate the outgoing beam, the un- 
believable quantities of energy that 
were beamed back to the relay, and 
then sent Earthward or toward the 

Electromagnetic energy travels at 
a very fixed sp)eed, of course. About 
300,000 kilometers per second in a 
vacuum. That is the prime law of 
the universe. Nothing can go faster, 
not in this space-time. Nothing, 
friend! — ^Nothing with substance. 
Nothing that is, well, real. So, when 
Breakaway Station first went into 
operation some one hundred and 
fifty standard years before, it had 
taken 4.3 years for its first message 
to reach Hart Station, Earthward; 
3.9 years to reach Obad Station 
toward the Paladine. That was the 
first message. The second took no 
measurable time at all. 

From Breakaway Station to Hart 
Station: like I said, four point three 
light-years: a beam of photons, con- 
tinuous, unbroken, stretching across 
that distance, bundles of invisible 
energy completing the link. Now, 
when the link was completed, the 
transmitters on Breakaway con- 
tinuously ptouring energy into space, 
there was a bridge between Break- 
away and Hart. The bridge had 
taken 4.3 years to “grow,” but 



passage across that bridge, if done in 
the proper manner, well, that was 
virtually instantaneous. 

Subspectrum energy is not self- 
propagating. It does not occur in 
nature except under the most ex- 
ceptional conditions, like in the 
hearts of stars going nova, for ex- 
ample, or in a quasar. It is a parasitic 
form of energy, if energy is really the 
proper term. It can exist only when 
electromagnetic energy is available 
in sufficient quantities, handled in 
the proper way. But subspectrum 
energy has one very unusual 
quality: since it isn’t real, that is, 
real in the sense of corpuscular 
energy, real as photons are real, it 
isn’t bound by the immutable laws of 
the universe. 

Don’t ask me to explain it. I can’t. 
Even 1 don’t really understand it. It 
isn’t something you talk about in 
words. Words just aren’t adequate. 
Certain highly evolved mathematics 
are, but then very few people have a 
grasp of them. Just accept it for this: 
standing waves of subspectrum 
energy impressed on a beam of elec- 
tromegnetic energy can be 
modulated, these modulations will 
proceed along the standing waves in 
something like zero-time. They exist, 
and then they don’t exist, but during 
the instant during which they do ex- 
ist, they will be felt all along the 
beam upon which the standing 
waves have been impressed. Follow 

Instantaneous communications! 

It costs like hell, in time, in 
money, in energy, but once the 
system is there a signal can be “sent” 
from Earth to Adrianopolis in no 
more time than it takes to modulate 

the intelligence onto the sub- 
spectrum standing waves, allowing 
for the time involved at each relay 
station where each signal is 
demodulated, cleaned up, and then 
remodulated. In the case of a 
message from the Paladine to Earth, 
an hour, at most, is required to cross 
forty light-years of space. 

Starships, of course, aren’t that 
fast. They bypass Einstein in 
another, cruder fashion. 

Captain Absolom Bracer watched 
as the starships and their ac- 
companying shuttles arced down 
across the pole, hundreds of kilo- 
meters from the power beam that 
climbed from the planet’s pole, out 
toward the relay station. A planetary 
shuttle broke away from the Rudoph 
Cragstone, entered a path that 
would return it to its launching site 
in the northern hemisphere, and 
vanished. Moments later another 
shuttle arrived, docked, and men 
and machines began to unload 
another dead cargo. 

Out of the twelve thousand men 
and women who had manned Break- 
away Station, five thousand of them 
were stiU at their posts, working 
double, triple shifts until the ships 
from AdrianopK)lis could arrive with 
their reinforcements — ^if they would 
ever arrive now. Of the rest, the 
other seven thousand, well, four and 
a half thousand of them, dead and 
half-dead, all in cold-sleep, were 
being ferried up to the Rudoph Crag- 
stone, to go back to Earth, to be put 
back together. The other two and a 
half thousand? There hadn’t been 
enough left of them to worry about, 
not even for the organ banks, after 
the Jillies attacked. The Jillies tend- 



ed to do a good job of whatever they 
did — and what they usually did was 
kiU human beings. 

And the two warships, the twelve 
interceptors that had guarded 
Breakaway Station? — they were 
gone, fragments still in orbit around 
Breakaway, around its sun, metal 
metors that had vaporized when 
they reached the planet’s tenuous at- 
mosphere, dead, gone. And Break- 
away’s ground defenses: energy can- 
non, plasma torpedo launchers, 
nuclear missiles: most of them gone 
too, as were huge sections of the 
power station, the solar receptors. 
But the human warships, the energy 
cannon, the plasma torpedos, the 
nukes had all take their toll of the 
enemy, toll enough that even with 
Breakaway naked and weakened, 
the Jillies had not taken the final 
step and plastered the planet with 
thermonukes. Nor had they attacked 
the relay station, but then the relay 
satellite was as well armed with 
defensive weapons as any warship. 
So, after coming within scant kilo- 
meters of totally destroying Break- 
water station, the Jillies had re- 
treated. The communications chan- 
nels were still open. Earth still 
talked with Adrianopolis, still knew 
what was happening in the Pala- 
dine, still awaited word firom Mo- 
thershed’s expedition, stiU massed 
her forces for one frantic stab into 
the heart of Jillieland before her 
colonies were severed and herself 

These, then, were some of the 
thoughts that ran through the mind 
of Absolom Bracer as he “stood” on 
the bridge of the Iwo Jima and 
watched the last of the shuttles ar- 

rive from the planet below. Some, 
but not all. 'There were some 
thoughts in his mind that he didn’t 
want to admit, even to himself. 

“Miss Cyanta,” he said aloud at 
last, his voice sounding harsh and 
overly loud in his ears, “see if you 
can raise General Crowinsky on 
Breakaway for me.” 

“Yes, sir,” the dark, attractive, 
legless communications officer 

A few moments later Bracer heard 
her speaking to someone on the 
planet below: “Breakaway Central, 
this is the League starship Iwo Jima. 
Captain Bracer wishes to speak with 
General Crowinsky.” 

“Acknowledge, Iwo Jima. Hold on 
one moment,” replied a voice from 
the communications speaker. Then, 
a few moments later, “General 
Crowinsky is occupied at the mo- 
ment. He will return Captain 
Bracer’s call as soon as possible, Iwo 

“Can you teU me how soon that 
will be?” Comm Officer Cyanta ask- 

“No more than an hour, Iwo 

“Thank you. Breakaway Central. 
LSS Iwo Jima out.” 

“I heard,” Bracer said without 
turning his head. “Inform me at 
once when the general calls. I’ll be in 
my cabin.” 

“Yes, sir. I will.” 

As Bracer started to leave the 
bridge he had a fleeting, unfinished 
thought, but one that made him 
turn, go back toward the first 
officer’s position, the treads of his 
supporting cylinder hissing faintly 
on the metal deck. 



“Mr. Maxel,” he said. 

“Yes, captain?” Daniel Maxel 
answered, looking up from the board 
before him, his broad Slavic face im- 
passive, serene. 

Too serene? Bracer asked himself. 
Is Dan’s expression an indication 
that he’s going under? I can’t afford 
to have a first officer who accepts 
conditions the way they are. There’s 
such a thing as too much ... Oh, 
dammit, Absolom, let it go. Dan’s the 
best damned officer you’ve got. And 
one with guts. 

The last thought almost made 
Bracer laugh aloud. Guts! There 
were very feW on that ship who had 
real flesh and blood guts. 

“How’s it going?” Bracer asked his 
first officer. 

“WeU enough, sir,” Maxel 
answered. “Everything’s under con- 

“Then turn the watch over to Mr. 
Reddick and come to my cabin,” 
Bracer said. 

“Yes, sir,” Maxel replied, his face 
betraying no trace of emotion, if he 
felt any. One of his artificial fingers 
touched a stud on the panel before 
him, a light blinked on, a buzz came 
from the small speaker in the board. 

As Bracer turned away to leave 
the bridge a voice spoke from the 
speaker; “Reddick here. Yes, Mr. 

As he quietly roUed down the cor- 
ridor leading from the starship’s 
bridge to the officer’s quarters. 
Bracer’s mind rambled aimlessly, 
but returned with terrible con- 
sistency to two images. One was that 
of the planet called Breakaway, 
rotating below them, its vast gray- 

brown deserts, the solar receptors 
that ringed its equatro, the glint of 
metal of the power station complex, 
the array of antennas and projectors 
at the north iwle, the five thousand 
embatded men and women who still 
operated the station, who still 
relayed the communications from 
Earth to Adrianopolis, from 
Adrianopolis to Earth, who waited to 
hear word of Albion Mothershed’s 
audacious expedition into the heart 
of Jillie-controlled space, who waited 
to hear word of the great armada of 
starships that Earth was gathering 
for one last magnificent attack, an 
attack, an invasion that might scat- 
ter the JUlie forces — or might 
destroy the last of mankind’s 

And the other image was of 
blasting, burning, searing light and 
heat, exploding out of the darkness, 
destroying starships and men, and 
those were thoughts that he did not 
wish to think, those were memeories 
that he did not wish to remember. 
He had died once. Wasn’t that 

Inside his cabin Bracer rolled to 
his desk, took a cigarette from an 
ornately engraved case that had 
been a woman’s gift, long ago, in 
another universe, and slowly, 
carefully puffed it to glowing. He 
took a deep breath, lungs filling vtith 
the smoke of tobacco a hundred 
generations removed from the fields 
of Virginia, and tried not to think, 
not to think of anything at all. 

A scarred, battered face riding 
atop the narrow shoulders of a tall, 
thin body clad in the uniform of a 
starship steward appeared in the 



“Is there anything I can get for 
you, sir?” the face asked. 

“No, Johnson. Thank you. I’ll call 
you if I need you.” 

“Very good, sir.” 

The steward vanished as quickly 
and silently as he had come, and 
Bracer remained in the same posi- 
tion, fighting thought, until metallic 
knuckles clad in synthetic plastiskin 
rappod on the cabin’s hatch. 

“Come in.” 

Daniel Maxel stepped through the 
voice-actuated hatch as it opened, 
the gray sphere of his uppjer torso 
reflecting the light of the lamp on 
the desk. 

“First Officer Maxel re . . .” 

“Stow it, Dan,” Bracer siad 
through tight lips, not really un- 
derstanding his own tenseness, 
porhaps not wanting to understand 
it. “This is a purely social occasion. 
Pretend I’ve taken off my uniform.” 

“Okay,” Maxel answered, smiling. 

“Sit down,” Bracer said, gesturing 
toward a chair with the glowing tip 
of his cigarette. 

“Anything in particular you 
wanted?” Maxel asked as he crossed 
the cabin and sat down. 

“I don’t know, Dan. I’m not sure. I 
just — well — I wanted to talk to 

“Okay, shoot.” 

“Look, I’ve got a couple of bottles 
of Napwleon brandy — some medical 
officer’s idea of a joke, I guess.” He 
cut himself off. Maxel knew that he 
didn’t have a natural gastroin- 
testinal system — but there was no 
iwint in talking about it, any more 
than there was any pwint in talking 
about the wounds, injuries, mutila- 
tions of the other officers and crew- 

men. This was a carefiilly tabooed 
subject aboard the Iwo Jima. “Care 
for a glass?” 

“No,” Maxel said. “I don’t think 
so. Thanks anyway.” 

“Just answer it in whatever 
fashion you can.” Bracer smiled, at 
least his lips smiled, and that is all 
the face he had left to smile with. 
‘That’s why I offered you the 
Napwleon in the first place.” 

“Well,” Maxel-began as Bracer 
opjened the cabinet, took out the bot- 
tle, “I think that I’d answer that 
morale is good, about as good as 
you’d expect under the 
cirsumstances. Oh, of course, Red- 
dick and a few others are as bitter as 
hell, but you can’t really blame 
them.” He paused. “There’s not a 
man or woman on this shop, except 
for the marines, who, well, doesn’t 
have something wrong with him. 
They’ve all been through hell, 
Absolom, and you can’t exp)ect them 
to come out of that wdth a big grin on 
their faces.” 

Bracer returned to the center of 
the cabin, sitting the bottle and an 
empty glass on a low table near the 
first officer’s chair. 

“Slorry it’s not chilled,” Bracer 
said. “I didn’t expiect anyone to be 
drinking it.” 

‘That’s okay,” Maxel replied. 

“About what you were saying, 
Dan. I know it. I know it as well as 
you do.” 

Maxel smiled. “I know you know 
it, and so does every other man and 
woman on this shop. You’ve had it 
worse than any of the rest of us, and 
that helps a hell of a lot.” 

“I’m not sure that mine’s any 
worse than — than yours.” 



“I think it is.” Maxel opened the 
bottle and poured the glass half full. 

“You say that morale is good, con- 
sidering,” Bracer said. ‘To what do 
you attribute this good morale?” 

“I’m not sure. Two things, I guess. 
Maybe three. Maybe more.” 

“What are they?” Bracer rolled 
back to the desk, got another cigaret- 

“You’re one of them,” Maxel said 
slowly. “No, I mean it. What I just 
said. You’ve suffered as much as any 
of us. Even more. And they know it, 
Absolom, that if you weren’t a 
qualified starship captain, and if the 
Force wasn’t so desperately in need 
of experienced captains, well, you’d 
be in cold-sleep in the Cragstone 
where you ought to be. They’ll follow 
you for it.” 

“Okay, I’m a litde tin god,” Bracer 
said, “and that’s just about literally 
true. What are the other reasons?” 

“’They’re going home. It’s that 
simple. Oh, I know that maybe half 
the crew has never been to Earth; 
they’re from Adrianopolis and 
Cynthia and half a dozen other 
planets, but Earth is, well, dammit. 
Earth is home. It’s even home for 
me, and, heU, my grandfather was 
bom on Creon.” 

“I know,” Bracer said. “It’s the 
mystique of Earth. The homeworld. 
The planet where we evolved. Even 
Adrianopohs, as Earthfike as it is, 
doesn’t really ... I don’t know how 
to express it either, Dan. But I know 
the feeUng. It’s something bom and 
bred into us during two billion years 
of evolution. We’re still Earthlings, 
aU of us.” 

Maxel nodded, continued. “And 

there’s the hope, behef, I guess you’d 
call it, almost religious, that the 
hospitals there can put them all back 
together. 'That means a lot too.” 

Maxel’s Ups tightened with his 
last words; Bracer could read the 
emotions on his face, could match 
them with his own. The hope that 
there on Earth he — they — could be 
transformed back into human beings 
again, the pain and horror of what 
had happened to them washed 
away, and they could walk and talk 
and smile and laugh and mix with 
others of their own kind. 

“You said there might be a third 
reason,” Bracer said after too long a 

“Yes. Admiral Mothershed’s ex- 
pedition,” Maxel said. “It’s common 
knowledge now. That and the fact 
that Earth is forming an armanda, 
that we’re getting ready for 
something really big. 

‘They’ve got hope, Absolom, for 
the first time in years they’ve really 
got hope that we can win this damn- 
ed war tmd chase the JiUies back to 
whatever hell they came from.” 

“There are a lot of ifs, Dan,” 
Bracer said slowly. “If Mothershed 
can get in and then back out again. 
If he can bring back information 
that really helps. If the armada can 
find the targets that Mothershed 
may locate. If the JUlies don’t have 
another armada ready to stop it. If 
they don’t launch a major attack on 
Earth before then. If, if . . .” 

“Dammit, I know that!” Maxel 
said suddenly, loudly, shattering his 
stoic calm. He paused, then said, 
“I’m sorry, but I know all that, and 
they know it, but, hell, Absolom, it’s 



a hope, the first real hope we’ve had 
since the Jillies overran then 

Bracer nodded slowly, sadly. “I 
know, Dan. I hope it as much as you 
do, as much any anyone, but I just 
can’t let myself believe that we’ve 
won until we actually have. We’re 
still too danmed close to losing.” 

'There was silence in the captain’s 
cabin for a few long moments. Maxel 
slowly relaxed, then refilled his glass 
with the old Napoleon brandy from 
the vinyards of Terra; Bracer lit stiU 
another Adrianopohan cigarette. 

Finally Maxel spoke: “What are 
you getting at?” 

“I don’t know, Dan,” Bracer said 
very, very slowly. “So help me, Dan, 
I don’t really know what I want.” 

“I think maybe you do. Maybe you 
just don’t want to admit it.” 

“Dan, I’ve been . . .” 

The desk besan to buzz, very, very 
loudly in the suddenly quiet cabin. 
Bracer slowly turned on the treads 
oft cylinder that supported what was 
left of his body, rolled to the desk, 
pushed a button. 

“Captain Bracer here,” he said. 

“Captain, this is Comm Officer 
Cyanta.” The woman’s image formed 
in the tank. “General Crowinsky is 
returning your call. Shall I put him 

“Yes, go on.” 

Bracer snuffed out his cigarette, 
glance over his shoulder. “Stay here, 
Dan. I want you to hear this.” 

Maxel nodded. 

The lean face of a very tired, ex- 
hausted-looking General Crowinsky 
developed in the tank. 

“Captain Bracer,” the comman- 
dant of Breakaway Station said, 


“I’m sorry it took me so long to re- 
turn your caU. Can 1 help you?” 

“Yes, sir. Have you been in com- 
munication with Colonial Defense 
Coordination Headquarters?” 

“Of course, captain,” Crowinsky 
said, annoyance showing on his 
face. “In fact, I was talking with 
CDC when you called earUer.” 

“May I ask, sir, just what is the 
situation in regard to your relief con- 

“Why are you asking, captain? 
I’m not sure that our situation is any 
affair of yours.” 

“No offense meant, general. I 
don’t mean to be prying, but — sir, if 
Jillie warships did intercept your 
convoy, they may still be in the 
neighborhood. I want to be ready.” 

Bracer asked himself whether he 
was really stating what he meant. Or 
was he lying? What did he really 
want Crowinsky to say? He didn’t 
know, and maybe he didn’t want to 

“Of course. Forgive me, captain,” 
the general was saying. “I am a bit 
tired, edgy, you know.” 

“Yes, sir. I understand.” 

“Thank you. Well, both 
Adrianopolis and Earth seem to 
agree. Jillie attack is the most likely 
thing. Those ships would have been 
here otherwise.” Crowinsky shook 
his head sadly. “I’m afraid that we 
must assume that they’ve been 
destroyed, captain.” 

“Then we were rather lucky in 
getting through,” Bracer said, flat- 
ly, falsely, knowing that space is 
enormous and starships small, and 
knowing that even if Jillie ships 
were still in the area, their failure to 
detect the tiny convoy was not an 


improbability. “What about you, 
general? Are they sending you 
another relief convoy?” 

The commanding officer of 
Breakaway Station nodded slowly. 
“They are,” he said, “but not from 
Adrianopohs. They can’t spare a 
single ship. Not one, captain.” The 
general’s lower lip quivered. 
“CDCHQ is going to send help, they 

“How soon?” Bracer asked, 
tension within him tingling the ends 
of raw nerves. 

“Four weeks, five weeks, as soon 
as Earth can spare them,” General 
Crowinsky said slowly. 

“They can’t do it any sooner?” 
Bracer demanded almost angrily. 

“No, that’s the best they can do. 
We’ll just have to hold out until 

“But can you, general?” 

“Dammit, captain, we have to!” 
Crowinsky yelled. “We’ve got to keep 
communications open to Earth un- 
til . . .” The Communications 
Crops general paused, fought back 
something that was written like fear 
across his face. “I’m sorry, captain.” 

“I understand, sir.” 

“I think you do. Captain Bracer.” 
Crowinsky was silent for a few 
moments. “The shuttles will be com- 
ing up with you reaction mass in a 
short while. I suggest that you plan 
on moving out of orbit as soon as 
you have it on board. I don’t know 
how safe you are here.” 

“Yes, sir. Thank you.” 

“Good day, captain.” And with 
that the general’s finger stabbed a 
button on the desk before him; his 
image faded from the tank. 

Absolom Bracer slowly turned 

away fi:om his own communicator 
and faced his first officer. 

“Haven’t we been through 
enough, Dan? Haven’t we suffered 

Daniel Maxel did not answer for 
a few moments, and when he finally 
did his voice was hollow, empty, his 
words slow: “Nobody’s asking us.” 

“I know.” 

For a few moments Bracer did not 
speak again, and when he finally did 
his voice was almost normal. “Dan, 
go back to the bridge and supervise 
the loading of the reaction mass. I’ll 
talk to you later.” 

“Yes, sir,” the first officer said, ris- 
ing firom the chair, leaving a half 
empty glass of Napoleon brandy 
sitting on the table. 

Bracer watched him leave, and 
then slowly turned back toward the 
communicator, and wondered just 
what he was going to do, and 
wondered how he was going to go on 
living with himself if he made any 
decision at all. 

A few minutes later he look a pill 
and hoped that it would enable him 
to get a little sleep before he had to 
talk with the captains of the 
Pharsalus and the Rudoph 
Crag stone. 


JiUies, said the half conscious 
mind of Absolom Bracer, that’s a hell 
of a name. How did we ever come up 
with that? That surely isn’t what 
they call themselves. He couldn’t 
remember. He thought of asking 
Roger, for either in the cells of his 
own brain, or in the memory units 



of the larger electro-mechanical 
computer that he supervised, Roger 
would have that bit of information 
stored away. But he didn’t want 
to ask Roger. He didn’t want to 
know the answer that badly. Why 
they were called Jillies didn’t really 
matter. The fact that they were 
did matter. That mattered a heU 
of a lot. 

And how long ago had mankind 
first encountered them? Two 
hundred and some odd standard 
years ago, as well as he could 
remember. Maybe two and a half 
centuries. A long time. More than a 
human lifetime, even in a day when 
men normally live past a century 
and a half. 

So men had known of thejillies for 
over a human lifetime, but what did 
they know of them, even now? How 
well did they understand them? 

Well, the basic facts were relative- 
ly simple; they could be found in any 
encyclopedia: the Jillies — what the 
hell was their scientific 
name? — ^were the natives of a world 
in the Sagittarius arm of the galaxy, 
many light-years toward the Center 
from Earth, a planet a little warmer 
than Earth, but not so warm as 
Venus, a planet a little larger than 
Earth, but no so large as Neptune. 

Roughly, very roughly, the Jillies 
were humanoid, if by humanoid you 
mean a creature with a central, 
upright body, two upper ap- 
pendages, arms, two lower ap- 
pendages, legs, and a brain-and 
sense-organ-housing head above the 
central body. Beyond that the 
resemblance virtually ended. The 
Jillies were like something out of a 
madman’s nightmare; hideous. 

monstrous things by any human 
standards, as humans must have 
been monstrous by their standards. 

Dark, leathery, hairless skin 
covered their bodies, skin that 
reminded Bracer of the leather of a 
very ancient and very worn book.. 
Their large heads were rounder than 
a man’s, more nearly smooth, with 
fewer distinct features; two great 
eyes set deeply within heavily boned 
eye sockets, seemingly too far apart 
for stereoscopic vision; a tiny, 
mobile slip in place of a mouth; 
nothing that could be called a chin, 
nothing that could be called jaws; 
feathery, mobile appendages where 
man would have ears. Necks, seem- 
ingly too thin to support the large, 
heavy heads, flowed into broad, 
muscular shoulders, and from the 
shoulders dropped arms, two elbows 
a piece, “double joined” wrists like a 
dog, six-fingered hands jointed so 
that anyfinger could serve the func- 
tion of a thumb. Broad chests, thick 
ribs — and a boned and muscled 
cavity where man would have his 
stomach and intestines! Bracer 
almost wretched, then slowly went 
on with his catalog of Jillie anatomy; 
rounded, woman-like hips, genitals 
that were too much like a human’s, 
legs that were double kneed, large 
splayed feet. And aU dark, coarse, 
leathery, alien,. Yes, that was the 
word for them, alien. 

Bracer’s mind came back to the 
abdominal cavity, that charac- 
teristic which more than any other 
set the Jillies so far from mankind. 
The Jillies were creatures with two- 
part bodies, or rather, bodies with 
detachable sub-bodies. This was 
something that had never quite been 



tried in Terrestrial evolution: a part 
of the body that could be removed 
and replaced at wIU. Very vague 
memories came back to him from 
some Zoology courses he had taken 
at the academy decades 
before — ^maybe there were some 
primitive examples in Earth’s 
biology of creatures that could 
sacrifice one portion of their body to 
a predatory enemy, while the rest of 
the animal fled to safety, but he 
couldn’t remember the speciflces. 
And it didn’t matter. Even if evolu- 
tion on Earth had experimented 
with the idea, it had never been 
followed up. On the world of the 
Jillies it had. 

Apparently some ancestor of the 
Jillies and their biological cousins 
had found an advantage in being 
able to eject its stomach and in- 
testines when threatened, and then 
escaping. It seemed like a heU of a 
defense, but weirder things had hap- 
pened, he supposed. 

As pre-JiUie evolution progressed 
on that hot, heavy world in the 
Sagittarius arm, the gastrointestinal 
system became more highly evolved 
for detachment, became a unit that 
could be released at wUl, left behind 
to appease the hunger of some 
bright-eyed predator, and lightening 
the proto-Jfilie, increasing the speed 
of his escape, leaving him to live and 
then regrow the missing organs from 
the heavy ridges of fat that lay along 
the back of his ribs. 

Then, some bright and en- 
terprising proto-Jillie, finding that 
he had given up a good portion of 
himself in error, made the attempt to 
replace the expelled organs. Perhaps 
it had not worked the first time, 


maybe it tcwk a million years to 
work, but eventually it did, even- 
tually the ancestors of the Jillies 
developed to a point where they 
could take back the sack of organs, 
reintegrate them with the rest of the 
body, and go on about their business 
as if the event had never happened. 

Since the proto- Jillie became more 
and more likely to remove his g-i 
sack in times of danger and stress, 
the Mother Nature of JiUieworld 
found it necessary to make pro- 
visions for the survival of the living 
cells in the separated portion. After 
attempting a dozen methods, she 
finally hit upon a rather simple solu- 
tion: evolve the nerves of the g-i sack 
a little, make them a rudimentary 
brain, modify this flap of muscle into 
a crude heart, that cavity into a 
lung; now we have an organism. 
Since the mouth in the proto-JiUie’s 
head was often detached from the 
stomach in the g-i sack, evolution 
produced a second mouth, an 
eating mouth in the g-i sack. The 
original head-mouth soon lost its 
teeth, sahvary glands, esophagus, 
and became breathing-talking 
mouth for the main body. About that 
time, through a set of incredible 
geological/clrmatic cirsumstances 
matched only by the ravages of 
Earth’s Pleistocene, the proto-JiUie 
was forced to evolve intelligence or 
die — ^JiUie was bom. 

What could mankind have in 
common with a creature so oddly 
constructed? Bracer asked himself. 
Well, intelligence, for one thing. A 
hunger for knowledge. A desire to 
conquer everything outside himself. 
A mind capable of coming to some 
understanding of the workings of the 

universe. And what else? Very little. 
Very damned little! 

It’s like this. Man is a social 
creature. True. But not a social 
creature to the extent of, say, an ant 
or a bee. Jillie was. Man lives in 
families of a more or less natural 
form, and from these he evolves 
clans, tribes, nations, worlds. Jillie 
did not know family, as such, only 
“clan,” or “hive,” as some would call 
it. Man thinks in terms of the in- 
dividual, the “me.” Jillie thought in 
terms of the “clan,” the “us.” 

Stop for a minute. Take that term 
that men translate as “clan.” A very 
poor translation it is. 'There are no 
human words to convey the Jillie 
meaning. Very, very roughly it 
might be translated as “stomach 
brothers.” Within the clan the g-i 
sacks were common property, that 
is, Jillies of sufficiently close blood 
relationship could interchange g-i 
sacks. 'This constituted the basic 
unit of Jillie society, the basic con- 
cept of Jillie thought. 

To the Jillie the individual was 
almost nothing. The “clan” was all. 
Clans formed superclans of more 
distant blood kin, sup>erclans formed 
nations, nations formed the race of 
the Jillies. 

How could a man understand the 
psychology of a Jillie? How could we 
every put ourselves in their 
philosophical shoes? Biologically we 
could never imitate Jillies. Could we 
do any better psychologically? It 
seemed rather hopeless. Men didn’t 
even know why they were at war 
with the Jillies. 

Take this for example: men think 
in terms of objects and events. 
Agreed, there are exceptions to this. 



both individually and culturallv. but 
by and large men think in these 
terms. Jillies, — they thought in 
terms of inter-relationships of 
events. Objects, well, they are acted 
upon by these, inter-relationships of 
events, but have little or no in- 
I>ortance in and of themselves. 
Follow me? Try this: men, for the 
most part, think in terms of the 
discrete, Aristoltelian A is A. JUlies 
thought in terms of “bridges,” and I 
can’t think of a single human 
philosopher who ever thought quite 
the way they did. 

Consider their language. Unlike 
mankind, by the age of interstellar 
flight, they had achieved a single 
language, no less complex than 
Anglo-western, more so, in fact, run- 
ning in excess of a half a million 
concepts — note, concepts, not 
words, for words, as men know 
them, did not exist in the language 
of Jillies, only inter-relationships of 
sounds and symbols. 

Though the Jillies had no formal 
religious concepts as men un- 
derstand them, certain values were, 
well, sacred to them. The value 
forty-four, for example. So, there 
were forty-four sound symbols in the 
JUlie language. The symbols, spoken 
or written, comprised the total of 
sounds available, symbols to write, 
for their written language, their 
numerals, their punctuation. Does it 
sound like an alphabet? It’s not. Not 
the way we understand an alphabet. 
Not one of these symbols had a fixed 
meaning. “A” in Anglo-western has a 
fixed meaning, several fixed mean- 
ings, in fact, but still something fair- 
ly standard, something relatively 
unchanging. The Jillie symbol that 

looked something like 0 could mean 
any number of things depending 
upon its inter-relationship with 
other symbols. Since nothing had a 
fixed meaning, nothing ap- 
proximating a human dictionary had 
ever been devised by a Jillie Noah 
Webster. This may speak highly of 
the Jillie capacity for memory, but it 
also speaks of their alienness to 

Perhaps all of this is beside the 
point, but it did pass through the 
mind of Absolom Bracer as he half- 
slept while the shuttles bringing 
reaction mass firom Breakaway 
docked and unloaded, and then re- 
turned to the barren world below. 
He also thought of two incidents 
that brought about war between 
mankind and the beings called 
Jillies. Both had involved human 
stellar colonies. 

Fifty years before, when Absolom 
Bracer was still a very young man, a 
recently explored planet between 
the Orion and Sagittarius galactic 
arms was colonized by Terrans. A 
shipload of disaffected Asians left 
the Great Singapore Spaceport for 
Esmerelda, where they would, as 
their brochures said, “begin a new 
way of fife on a clean and unclut- 
tered world.” 

Approximately a standard year 
and a half after the landing of the 
colonial ship, four Jillie warships 
came out of star drive a few light- 
hours firom Esmerelda, and, without 
communication of any sort, pro- 
ceeded to the human colony, shields 
up and weapons fiaing. After a short 
and bloody battle between the Jillie 
invaders and the poorly armed col- 
onists, fully half of the survivors, 



mostly young adults and older 
children, were kidnapped by the 

When the Colonial Authority of 
the newly formed Galean League on 
Earth learned of the attack and ab- 
duction, a very strongly worded 
message was dispatched to the JiUie 
homeworld, demanding the im- 
mediate return of the captured 
humans. The Jillies compiled at 
once, apologizing profusely, saying 
that they were sorry, they had not 
know that these people were of value 
to Earth. When the ship returning 
the abducted humans landed on 
Adrianopolis of the Paladine, war 
very nearly began. The aliens had 
been vivisecting the colonists — only 
thirteen were still alive, and they 
were begging to die. 

War did not occur. Tempters 
gradually cooled. The JUlies paid a 
large indemnity in heavy metals and 
swore that such an occurance would 
never, never take place again. The 
councils of the Galean League did 
not understand the psychology of 
the Jillies, but they accepted their 
word. They had little choice, short of 
interstellar war. 

So there was peace, for a while. 

Nearly thirty years passed. 
Another planet between the major 
galactic arms was settled, 
Transtock, dozens of hght-years to 
the galactic west of ill-fated 
Esmerelda. Ten standard months 
after the establishment of the first 
permanent settlement on Transtock, 
a JiUie war fleet spiraled into the 
system, feU into orbit, bombarded 
the colonial planet with 
thermonuclear weapwns, and then 
quietly returned to its home base. 

Shortly thereafter a JUlie courier 
ship arrived on Earth, landing at the 
Geneva Spaceport with all the p>omp 
that surrounded such matters of 
state, even in that enhghtened age. 
Its single occupant, a gray-skinned, 
battle-scarred old JiUie military 
officer of the leading clan of the JUlie 
homeworld, asked to be taken at 
once to the Chairman of the Galean 
League. Before the chairman, the 
JUlie courier, in the croaking, 
wheezing spieech that JUlies used to 
imitate men, said; “Insulting is 
enough. Stomach-brothers endure 
no more. War is here. Dying!” The 
JUlie’s g-i sack had been replaced by 
a bomb that destoryed half of 

So the war began. 

Why? Because we infringed on 
some area of space that the JUlies 
held to be their own? They never 
said so. Because we violated some 
taboo? They ever told us. Because 
they just didn’t like us? Maybe. But 
no one ever knew for sure. 

These are some of the things that 
Absolom Bracer thought about whUe 
he half slept, whUe the reaction 
mass was being loaded aboard his 
three starships. 

Then he caUed the bridge. 

“Yes, captain,” answered the com- 
munications man on duty. 

“Is Mr. Maxel on the bridge?” 

“Yes, sir.” 

“Let me speak to him.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

Moments later Daniel Maxel’s 
broad face app>eared in the tank. 


“Yes, sir.” 

“How’s loading coming?” 

“Just about finished with us. 



Another ten. fifteen minutes. Shall I 
have Miss O’Gwynn begin plotting 
our orbit out?” There was a hushed 
excitement in his question, and 
perhaps fear. 

“No, not yet,” Bracer said slowly. 
“What about the other ships?” 

“They’re finished with Pharsalus. 
Cragstone’s going to take a while 
longer. Maybe half an hour.” 

“Okay. Just as soon as you’re 
finished there come to my — no, 
make that the briefing room. Meet 
me there.” 

“Yes, sir.” There were questions 
on the first officer’s face, but he ask- 
ed none of them. 

Bracer thumbed the switch with 
his real hand. The image faded out. 

Now what, Absolom? he asked 
himself. What the hell are you going 
to do now? You’ve got a problem, 
and you know it. Isn’t it time you ad- 
mitted it? Out loud? 

“Haven’t I suffered enough?” he 
asked himself. “Haven’t we all suf- 
fered enough?” 

A surge of memory and pain went 
through what was left of his body, a 
memory of what it was that had 
made him the way he was now, the 
horribly mutilated half-man that he 
was. He could see again the tanks of 
'the bridge during the battle, the 
huge shape of the JiUie warship 
before him, the blaze of energy can- 
non, the glow of plasma torpedos, 
the flickering of electromagnetic 
fields — and he could remember how 
it was when the computer failed to 
outguess that one particular torpedo, 
how it broke tlirough the shields and 
reached the huU of the Crecy, and 
how his starship exploded around 
him. He remembered how it was 

to die, horribly, painfully, and not 
nearly quickly enough, how he saw 
his legs blasted before a thorn of 
flame from a fusing bulkhead seared 
against his spacehelmet and then 
he had no more eyes. Then he had 
died. Thank God, he had died. 

But they had brought him back to 
life, damn their souls, damn those 
merciless doctors on Adrianoiwlis, 
and doubly damn those admirals 
who had given him — hirriy a corpse 
who still talked — a command and 
said, ‘Take these three ships home, 

And now . . . now he was at 
Breakaway Station and a third of the 
way home, but Breakaway Station 
was almost defenseless and if the 
Julies attacked she wouldn’t even 
have the feeble defenses that the Iwo 
Jima and the Pharsalus could offer, 
and if she were destroyed, if the 
communications link were 
destoryed, if . . . 

. . . Roger! . . 

. . . Yes, captain . . . 

... I need your help . . . 

. . . Just ask, captain . . . 

. . . Dammit, roger, what am i 
going to do? . . . 

... I can’t answer that for you, 
sir . . . 

. . . You’ve got to help me . . . 

... I can supply you in- 
formation, captain, but i can’t make 
your decisions, you know that, there 
are certain limitations to my 
capabilities, buUt-in, you might say, 
or at least conditioned . . . 

. . . How, roger? you were a man 
once . . . 

. . . That was a long time ago, 
captain, i don’t remember, i’m not a 
man now. my mind doesn’t function 



the same as yours, i don’t have the 
same frames of reference, i can’t 
replace you, captain, nor can you 
replace me. i can help you, but i 
can’t make your decisions for 
your . . . 

. OKAY! . . . Bracer’s 
CEMEARS was silent for a few 
moments; then he projected this 
question:. . . in the light of present 
circumstances, including any in- 
formation that may have been 
relayed to you from breakaway sta- 
tion, what is the probability that the 
rehef convoy from adrianopoUs was 
destoryed by enemy activity? . . . 

In the same formal tones, Roger’s 
mental projections said: . . . the 
probability that the relief convoy 
was attacked and estroyed by enemy 
warships now stands at ap- 
proximately 82 per cent, with . . . 

. . . Okay, roger, that answers 
my question, now, do you think that 
the jillies destroyed those 
shops? . . . 

... Of course . . . 

Bracer paused before putting his 
next question to the Organic Com- 

. . . roger. Considering all 
available information, what do you 
consider the probability of a jillie at- 
tack on breakaway station prior to 
the arrival of the relief ships from 
earth? ... 

Then it was Roger’s turn to pause. 
There was a long, cold silence in 
Bracer’s mind before the “voice” of 
the Organic Computer replied: 

. . . captain, there’s too little data 
to give you an answer that would 
have any kind of validity . . . 

... do the best you can . . . 

. . . there are too few precidents 


for this type of attack, too many 
unknowns . . . Roger paused. 
... as i said a few moments ago. 
captain, you and i don’t really think 
in the same way; our environments 
are more different than you may 
realize, and our environments order 
and ordain the frames within which 
we do our thinking, you are a man, 
despite what you may presently think 
despite what you may presently 
think of yourself, and you think as 
a man thinks, i’m a starship, sir, 
for all practical purposes, and I 
think as a starship thinks, yet, cap>- 
tain, as you once observed yourself, 
my thoughts and yours are identical 
when compared with those if the ex- 
tra-terrestrials we call jillies. at least 
you and i, sir, have an ancestral 
identity, captain, i just can’t think 
the way the jillies do. i can’t pro- 
ject . . . 

. . . roger . . . Bracer inter- 
rupted, . . . are you trying to avoid 
giving me a straight answer? 

. . . No, sir . . . 

. . . Then tell me, do you think 
that the jillies are going to attack 
within the next four or five 
weeks? . . . 

. . . Yes, sir, i think they prob- 
ably win . . . 

. . . thank you, roger . . . 
Bracer transmitted. . . . that’s aU 
for now . . . 

Bracer turned to the com- 
municator of his desk and stabbed a 
button. Moments later the face of the 
duty communications man appeared 
in the tiny tank. 

“Get me Captain Bavins,” Bracer 

“Yes, sir.” 

The tank fogged and for long, 

dragging moments during which 
Bracer attempted to think no 
thoughts at all, the tank was filled 
with floating abstractions. Then the 
tank cleared. 

Half a human face looked back at 
him: the right eye, part of a nose, 
part of a mouth; the rest was a 
featureless egg of plastiskin. 

“You wanted to talk to me, 
Absolom?” asked Captain Charles 
Bavins of the LSS Pharsalus. 

“Yes, I did, Chuck. How’s 
everyone doing over there?” 

“Well enough. Actually better 
than I had expected when we left 
Adrianopohs. We’ll make it. I’m sure 
of that now.” 

I wish I were, thought Absolom 

“Chuck, will you rake a shuttle 
over to the Iwo in about an hour? I 
want to talk to you about something. 
Bring your first officer along.” 

“Sure, we’ll be there,” Bavins 
said. “Can you tell me what it’s 

“I’d rather wait ’till you get here.” 

“Okay. See you in an hour.” 

Moments later, once Bavins’ im- 
age was gone from the tank. Bracer 
buzzed the bridge. 

“Contact all senior officers,” he 
said quickly. “TeU them to meet me 
in the briefing room at once.” 

Then, for a long, long while Cap- 
tain Absolom Bracer peered into the 
empty, dead tank and said to 
himself, God help me, God help us 
all if I’m doing the wrong thing. 


The next two hours passed quick- 
ly, sometimes loudly, sometimes bit- 

terly, but they passed, and a decision 
was made. 


“Captain Bracer, I really don’t un- 
derstand.” 'The image of General 
Crowinsky within the tank was 
frankly puzzled. 

“I simply said, sir, ‘do you have 
any objection to my ships delaying 
their departurefor about five 

“For God’s sake. Bracer, why? You 
can make it to Earth in two weeks 
or less. Why do you wsmt to . . .” 
Crowinsky ’s voice broke off, realiza- 
tion began to emerge within his 
eyes. “My God, man, do you know 
what you’re asking for?” 

“I know very well, sir,” Bracer 
said slowly. And he did know, he 
and the officers of the three 
starships; they knew far better than 
General Crowinsky what they were 
requesting. They had all ex- 
perienced death at Jillie hands 

“I have discussed this with my 
senior officers,” Bracer went on. 
“They understand the situation. 
There is reluctance, I admit, 
general, but we have reached an 
agreement. We know what we’re 
doing. We don’t like it very well, 
but ...” Like Crowinsky, Bracer 
let his voice trail off. 

Reluctance is hardly the word. 
Bracer thought. I’U probably face at 
least one mutiny before this is out. 
But I think we can survive that. 
We’ve got worse things to face than 
disaffected officers and crewman. 
Things like — ourselves. 

“Frankly, captain,” Crowinsky 



was saying, “how much help could 
you be to us if — ^if the JiUies attacked 

“I don’t really know, general. I on- 
ly know that you have no other 
defense to speak of now. If we re- 
main, and if the JiUies do at- 
tack — and I’m prayingto every god I 
know that they don’t — ^but if they do, 
we can at least give you a better 
chance than you’ve got without us. 
And without us, general, you don’t 
have any chance at aU.” 

“I know that, Captain Bracer, but, 
reaUy, this isn’t your fight. God 
knows you’ve done your duty. 
Nobody can expect more of you.” 

“That’s what I keep teUing myself, 
sir,” Bracer said, “but something 
keeps teUing me that, weU, this is 
my fight. I can’t help but look at it 
this way, general: if the JiUies don’t 
attack, we haven’t lost anything but 
a few weeks. If they do, and if we’ve 
gone on to Earth, and if they do 
destroy you and break the com- 
munications link. Earth wiU be out 
of touch with the Paladine and with 
Admiral Mothershpd, if he makes it 
back. Then we’d be lying in hospital 
beds on Earth, not knowing whether 
a JiUie fleet is on the way to blast the 
homeworld out of the sky. Maybe a 
break in the communications chain 
wUl give the JiUies just the edge that 
they need. Maybe not. I don’t know. 
But, Gk)d help me, sir, I don’t think 
we can take any chances with it.” 

“I think I do understand. Captain 
Bracer,” Crowinsky answered. “As 
soon as I can get a clear channel to 
Earth, TU put in your request.” 

“I would appreciate it,” the 
starship captain said. “Would you 
patch me in on that, sir?” 

“Of course. Is there anything else, 

“No, sir. I don’t suppose so at the 

“TU be back in touch with you 

Had it not been for the heavy 
metal base of the cylinder tat sup- 
ported his body, and his life. Cap- 
tain Absolom Bracer would had 
coUapsed. As it was he slumped 
forward from the waist, to be caught 
by the strong prosthetic hands of his 
first officer. 

“Captain?” Daniel Maxel said 

“Let me rest for a minute.” 

Pain. Red stinging tongues of pain 
like flames clawed at legs that no 
longer existed, blazed in a shoulder 
that was nothing more than a 
stump, flared in a scarred groin,. 

“ShaU I caU the medical officer?” 
Maxel asked. 

“No, no. rU be okay.” 

Pain that was much like the 
blasting of a plasma torpedo tried 
to consume the huddled mind of 
Absolom Bracer. Back, back into 
his skuU he crept, huddling against 
an outcropping of bone and tried 
to hide from the glowing pain. 

After a whUe he bit his lower lip 
then shook himself, raised back up 
and looked at the other starship 
officers who were with him in the 
Iwo Jima’s briefing room. 

Besides Bracer and his first of- 
ficer, there were now four others, 
starship officers who had been 
through their own hells not too un- 
like his own, who lived and moved 
and functioned thanks only to me- 
chanical limbs and organs. 

Captain Charles Davins of the LSS 



Pharsalus: he had lost half his face 
and there was a mechanical heart 
thumping in the ruined cavity of his 

Lena Bugioli, the black-skinned 
first officer of the LSS Pharsalus: 
from the waist up she was whole, but 
her body below the waist was sup- 
F>orted by a cylinder like Bracer’s. 
Her face, rock-hard and anything 
but serene, hid the terrible pain that 
she must have felt. She did not let 
that pain interfere with her assigned 

Captain Zoe Medaway of the LSS 
Rudoph Cragstone: once a starship 
medical officer, promoted to captain 
against all tradition, then killed at 
her first command, now “revived” to 
command again, now without a face. 
The image that Captain Medaway 
showed to her tiny world was that of 
a plastiskin egg with two tri-D 
lenses, two openings for nostrils, 
and nearly immobile mouth for 
features. No one knew what other 
damages she might have, what other 
pains she carried. She did not speak 
of them, and no one asked. 

First Officer Gautier Lindquist of 
the LSS Rudoph Cragstone: he had a 
face, two arms, two legs, but the 
pack that he wore across his 
shoulders, a complex electronic that 
bypassed his ruined spinal column, 
betrayed his injuries. 

These six had come to their 
decision, slowly, painfully, reluc- 
tantly, yet they had aU come to agree 
with Absolom Bracer for differing 
reasons that Bracer did not 
fully understand, and they had let 
him relay their decision on General 
Crowinsky. They would stay — until 
the relief ships came from Earth, or 

until . . . That they did not like to 
think about. 

“None of you wants to back out?” 
Bracer asked them when he had 
regained complete control of 
himself. “You stiU can. My ship is 
staying, but as of the moment I have 
no authority to order the rest of you 
to stay.” 

“We made our decision,” Captain 
Bavins said slowly. “The Pharsalus 
stays.” He glanced at his first officer 
who only nodded a slow, sad reply. 

Bracer turned his artificial eyes to 
Captain Medawar. 

“Captain Bracer, ’s said a 
mechanical voice from the face that 
wasn’t a face, “you have really given 
us little choice. You’re browbeaten 
us, intimidated us, accused us of 
cowardace and even treason if we 
don’t agree to your scheme. Perhaps 
we should have called your bluff and 
said that we were going on to Earth 
despite your wishes. I’m not really 
sure, and 1 don’t believe that if we 
had we would have been charged 
with desertion.” Captain Medawar 
paused reflectively for a mo- 
ment.“However, we have agreed.” 
Again she paused. “I don’t know 
what value a hospital ship can be to 
you. Perhaps, as you said, the Jillies 
wouldn’t know that it isn’t a 
warship. Perhaps you can use her to 
make us appear stronger than we 
really are, if it comes to that. That’s 
up to you, I suppose. You’re a combat 
officer, and if the stories are true, a 
good one. But I know this: I can’t 
and I won’t try to take the Cragstone 
to Earth without your escort. I don’t 
fully agree with you, captain, but I 
rather think I admire you. You’re the 
biggest damned fool I ever met.” 

(Continued on page 127) 




Dean R. Koontz, still in his early 20’s, has sold three s-f novels at 
time of this writing and many short-stories to most of the top 
magazines. We are happy to know that one of his earliest publish- 
ed stories appeared in these magazines some time ago. THE 
TEMPLE OF SORROW must be read on its own terms; the most 
interesting thing about it is to speculate just how good Mr. Koontz 
is going to be. 

Illustrated by JEFF JONES 


TAPE NO. 6657-A23 


First Party: 

His black eyes sparkled like 
polished coal in his green cotton 
face, and they were red-rimmed 
from the fumes of the incense. 

"Who comes to the Temple of 

"My name is Mandarin. Felix 

The Greenmask turned to the 
space beside me, narrowing his 
already shtted eyes behind the 

"This is Theseus,” I said. 

"A Mutie?” 

"My bodyguard,” I snapped. I 
didn’t particularly care to have 
These referred to as a Mutie, 

"Why do you come to the Tem- 
ple of Sorrow?” 

To find out what the hell hap- 
pened to one small nuclear de- 
vice stolen from the Manhattan 
Museum of Pre-War Artifacts. 
To find out how the hell you 
fanatics can use one bomb to 
destroy the world. It must be 
your only one, for the last bomb 
was found and destroyed a hun- 
dred years ago, lodged a foot 
below an Iowa pasture. 

"To see the* Bishop of Misery.” 



Somewhere in the backgroimd, 
the chanting of many voices arose 
in one of the sacred songs. The 
language was that of the Inner 
Rings of the Temple, understood 
only by Disciples, Priests, and all 
the members of the Hierarchy. I 
had been taught it at training 
central overaperiodof two weeks . 
We had monitored several tem- 
ples with directional microphones 
to obtain a grammar. With the 
chanting, it sounded like the buzz 
of angry insects. This particular 
chant, from the bits and pieces I 
could hear clearly, was a pre- 
liminary to fertility rights. 

"His Holy Majesty is indisposed 
to non-believers.” 

I fished in my pocket and hand- 
ed him my credentials. "Please 
make it known to his holy ma- 
jesty that this is business of 

He examined the photo and 
unalterable plastic description 
and authorization packet. He 
handed everything back, his 
mouth and chin — the only por- 
tion of his face visible other than 
his red-rimmed eyes — screwed 
into a scowl. "This way and fold 
your hands, please.” 

We moved through the oaken 
doorway at the far end of the well- 
lighted lobby into a narrow pass- 
ageway illuminated onlybysimu- 
fire torches placed at every twenty 
feet. The walls were actually ten- 
foot blocks of volcanic rock (prob- 
ably cut from the New Mexico 
beds) fitted together so perfectly 


that no mortar was necessary. 
The ceiling was left in total dark- 
ness to convey the impression 
that it stretched upward to the 

Greenmask left us in the wait- 
ingroom (which was, looking at 
it objectively, nothing more than 
a cell) and departed. 

Theseus testedthe door. "Lock- 
ed,” he grumbled. 

"Merely standard procedure,”! 
said. "They want to be sure no 
heathens violate their Inner 

"I don’t like nohov/.” 

He turned around and shuffled 
back to where I sat on a rough 
stone bench that was bracketed 
to the wall. "You not scared, 


"Then I not scared.” He plop- 
ped down next to me. 

In the grays and browns and 
blacks of the shadows, I could 
see his face illuminated irregu- 
larly by the moonlight that fil- 
tered in through the lone, barred 
window set high in the opposite 
wall. His nose was still that of a 
bear, square and black, cold and 
blunt. The fur was missing from 
his face, but it still covered his 
head, appearing as someone’s 
joking idea of artificial hair. His 
mouth appeared human, except 
for the black lips, but when he 
opened it, a neat row of calcium 
razors showed, gleaming like the 
blades of penknives. 

I reached over, unable to stop 

myself, and patted his shoulder. 

He grumbled contentedly some- 
where deep inside his barrel chest, 
making me feel that I had not 
done wrong. 

He didn’t speak, and his ner- 
vous quiet left me nothing to do 
but think. Think about the new 
twenty-square mile Temple in 
Canada — its layers of radiation 
shielding, its imderground rooms 
—a pleasure palace and fallout 
shelter in one (if intelligence re- 
ports had it correctly). So it could 
be assumed that they were pre- 
pared for the Second Coming of 
the Form. That would mean the 
end of the world to the rest of 
us, the non-believers. 

In a few minutes, the Disciple 
returned. "This way, Mr. Man- 

I walked out of the cell, The- 
seus following. 

"The Mutie will have to remain 

"No!” Theseus growled, his 
black lips quivering. I was amused 
to see Greenmask flinch as the 
penknives flashed into view. 

"It’s okay, Thes. I’ll be back 
shortly. Wait here until I return.” 
Of course he would not be per- 
mitted into the Temple proper. 
The Temple was against modem 
science (all modem science that 
they had no use for). They found 
it especially distasteful that the 
government should take animals 
and develop them in the Artificial 
Wombs to the point where they 



approached being human. But 
then, since The Holocaust and 
Prentman’s Plague, there were 
too few humans to carry on all 
essential work. Most women of 
the past three generations had 
been sterile, and only now were 
the majority bom fully female. 
Something had to be created to 
take care of the menial tasks, 
and androids were just not as 
flexible, not as efficient as actual 
living beings. Thus, the Muties. 
Horse Muties. Cow Muties. Mon- 
key Muties. Cat Muties, Dog Mu- 
ties. Bear Muties . . . 

"Okay,” he said finally. "But I 
no like you alone no how. No- 

The Disciple sighed heavily. 
Without the familiar sound of 
shuffling feet beside me, I fol- 
lowed the Greenmask into the 
Inner Rings. 

I sized him up as he led the 
way, for I would have to take 
care of him on the way out. He 
was stocky, large shoulders, but 
also a pot for a stomach. He may 
once have been a ferocious fight- 
er, but now he was nothing more 
than the fattened veteran. 

The odor of incense grew faint- 
er, the lighting brighter. 

I would have to kill him with 
my bare hands. There were wea- 
pons scanners in the entrance- 
way, and I had had to leave my 
pistol behind. It would best be 
a judo chop to the left side of 
the neck, followed by a 'dcious as 
possible slam to the left ear- 

more precisely, a point one inch 
behind the left ear. Break his 
spinal cord if possible. 

"The chambers of the Bishop 
of Misery,” he said, punching a 
print-coded button embedded in 
the marble wall and pointing to 
a sliding steel doorway. 

A choir of Heavenly Hosts float- 
ed down from the ceiling pluck- 
ing harps and singing "Holy, 
Holy, Holy Form” while scenes 
of Nirvana flashed behind them 
on banks of rolling clouds. Christ 
and Buddha came walking out of 
the wall, flanking Ahura Mazda, 
all three with linked arms, sing- 
ing verses from the Muza-Metzu 
Book of the Form, in praise of 
the Flaming Mushroom. 

"I don’t care for theatrics,” I 

Greenmask gave me an evil 
stare. I continued to watch the 
spectacle, wondering how the il- 
lusions were accomplished. Even- 
tually, they faded away, and their 
disappearance revealed the Bish- 
op of Misery sitting on a golden 
throne, a large, ugly dog at his 
side, a picture of the Holy Mush- 
room Form behind him, and one 
of the famous Naked Angels to 
his right. 

"Enter,” he said, bowing his 
diamond-studded head. "Wel- 
come to heaven.” 


First Party: 

"You know, of course, that the 
Temples of the Form believe that 



the church itself, the physical 
structure, is Heaven and that the 
Innermost Ring — which no per- 
son living save Bishops and 
Priests may enter — is a contact 
point into the universal, all-en- 
compassing mind of the Father 
of the Form. And that some great 
morning, the Form will come 
again and destroy ail evil but leave 
the good temples to flourish.” 
I felt like a boy at catechism. 
"No, I didn’t know all that,” I 
said. It was difficult to refrain 
from looking at her, for she was 
beautiful in body and in face. 
Indeed, her face was truly that of 
an angel. But I knew I had bet- 
ter watch myself. I was within 
the confines of a temple. Greater 
personages than myself had never 
come back out of some of them. 
The Bishop - of - Whatever -the- 
Hell - That - Particular - Temple - 
Was always made the same pub- 
lic statement at the end of each 

The Temple of , in the 

Temple-Blessed City of — , 
as it seeks to spread the 
word and the light, is always 
pleased when a non-believer 
is shown and accepts with a 
full heart the Blessings of 
the Form. With piety and 
holy pleasure within his soul. 
His Holy Majesty, the Bish- 
op of — wishes to announce 
that the following brethren 
have been chosen as Disci- 
ples of the Form, Clergy of 

the Green Hood, who will 
never again venture into the 
evil of the modem world. 
Their names are these: — 

That was the standard procla- 
mation, only the particular tem- 
ple, bishop, and "new apostles” 
varying. They had obtained some 
of the top scientific minds that 
way. And recently, we of Inter- 
national had strong reason to 
believe they had forsaken then- 
vows and were indeed venturing 
again into the outside world on 
short, victorious forays directed 
at electronic supplies . . . 

. . . and museiuns. 

. . . and other top scientists, 
who were disappearing. 

. . . and somebody had to find 
out what was happening. 

. . . and that somebody turned 
out to be me. 

The Naked Angel had stopped 
talking, and she turned , to face 
the Bishop of Misery. He was 
lifting a glass of ruby liquor to 
his lips, and the upward move- 
ment of his hand drew my atten- 
tion back to the sirrgically im- 
planted diamonds in his forehead, 
their sparkling bodies very much 
like stars. 

"You are from International,” 
he said presently, making no of- 
fer of a chair. 

"That is correct, Yoiu: Rever- 
ence.” Tact was aU important. 
My main goal was not to upset 
him, but to provide an excuse for 
my presence in the temple— and to 



get that Greenmask on the way 
out. Break his spinal cord. Snap. 

"We are always eager to assist 
International, for, after all, it is 
the only peace-keeping force we 
have in this charred and ruined 
world of ours.” 

The only anti-Church organiza- 
tion, he meant. The Temples of 
the Form were anti-Intemational, 
anti-peace. He wouldn’t mind see- 
ing the world charred and ruined 
a bit more. That’s why I am in 
International. I like living and 
freedom and money. The Inter- 
Agent has plenty of free time (I 
have had as much as six months 
between assignments) with im- 
mimity to most laws and more 
money than he could spend in 
two lifetimes. 

"Well, we of International are 
pleased to hear that, for we ap- 
proach Your Reverence with some 
very distasteful news concerning 
some of his Disciples.” 

"And what is that?” 

The dog stiffened at his side; 
I realized then that they must be 
emotio-linked. A device implant- 
ed within the dog’s brain— and 
maybe the Bishop’s too. He would 
respond to his master’s emotions: 
grow fierce with anger, vicious 
with fear, rendering any enemy 
into stew meat, and docile and 
trusting when his master was hap- 
py. He was a fine animal. His 
claws were glistening, well-mani- 
ciured prongs that extended from 
the heavy pads of his feet, his 
fangs long and curved and yellow. 

"We have three of Your Rever- 
ence’s Disciples in custody. They 
were involved in a successful at- 
tempt to steal the last atom bomb 
in the world.” 

"Impossible! My Priests, once 
having learned the Truth, will 
never depart from a temple.” 

"Nevertheless, they have the 
Bishop’s Mark on their foreheads. 
They were, of course, in a state 
of . . . quietus when we captured 
them. It seems a small device in 
their necks not-so-neatly severed 
their heads from their shoulders, 
denying us the privilege of taking 
them alive.” 

'Tnq)osters. Obviously com- 
mitted suicide so that you could 
not question them and discover 
their true identities.” 

Time for placating, for reconcil- 
iation. "Then Yoiu: Reverence has 
no knowledge of them?” 

"None.” His eyes were flaming, 
breath coming swiftly in and out 
of flared nostrils. He almost snarl- 
ed. Looking from the Bishop to 
the dog, I wondered if they were 
not linked more closely than I had 
first conjectured. 

' 'We thought not, but we felt the 
Bishop would want to know that 
some group is attempting to defile 
the name of his temple.” 

He eyed me cautiously for a mo- 
ment, then relaxed and smiled. 
"Thank you^Mr. Mandarin. We 
appreciate your concern for the 
Temples of the Form. May you 
find these culprits. You may go.” 

As Greenmask guided me to the 



door, the Naked Angel walked to 
the front of the throne. The dog 
whined at her. In that horribly 
lucid moment, I realized that her 
duties might consist of much 
more than explaining doctrine to 

As we walked back down the 
well-lighted corridor toward the 
narrow and darker one, I began 
tensing myself for the murder. I 
could not simply apply for admis- 
sion to the Temple , for they would 
have drugged me first. They 
would have foimd out I spied on 
them. By entering the Temple as 
a visitor, killing my escort and 
stealing his costiune, I could mas- 
querade as a Disciple. My training 
should get me by. Theseus could 
dispose of the body. 


There was no warning at all as 
the sharp pain stabbed suddenly 
into my neck, doubled me over, 
and flicked out the light of the 
world . . . 


Second Party 

He was a bear. 

I’ll call the bear HIM, because 
I no longer think of him in the 
first person. Not I-bear. He-bear. 

Anyway, he was a bear. 

And being a bear, he was first 
of all two things: vicious and fear- 
filled. No amount of humanity 
that Artificial Wombs had instil- 
led in him could coimteract the 

reciuTing instances of those two 
natural qualities. After all, he had 
been a bear fetus with bear genes 
—even if the major part of his 
heredity had been tampered with. 

So, first of all, vicious. 

When he sensed the opening of 
the cell door, he stood up to 
greet Felix. But there was no 
Felix. There were three Green- 
masks standing in the doorway. 
The leader waved the snout of 
his vibra-pistol at the bear and 
said. "Out in the hall.” 

Many things were numing 
through his mind. The extremes 
of his personality brought up' 
suggestions even he could not 

They are standing in an equi- 
lateral triangle. How could I 
best use that to my advantage? 

What devil is equa . . . equa .. . 
something triangle? Where get 
that from? 

Rip. Gouge. Go eyes blood 
seep. Tear head brain open eat 
soft white and gray blood eat. 

No. Terrible. Not that way. 

And he finally settled on a 
middle road, a swipe of the paw 
that batted the barrel of the pis- 
tol so violently as to wrench it 
firom the man’s hand and send 
it clattering against the far wall. 
Then he charged, swatting the 
suddenly imarmed leader aside, 
hearing the subtle crunching of 
ribs. He butted one of the re- 
maining two to the floor and 
whirled on the retreating third 
and raked swiftly extended claws 



the length of his back. Blood 
sprang to life in sudden rivers. 
Screaming, the fleeing Pisciple 
roUed to the floor and twitched 
out his life. 

The bear, ferocity banging away 
at the man-implanted reason of 
his mind, the blood smelling 
strangely sweet in his nostrils, 
bent to the one he had butted. 
"Where Felix Mandarin?” 

The man was choking with 
fear. A great, ugly bruise was 
beginning to blotch his cheek. 

"Where? TeU or kill!” 

Ssssang! The retort of a vi- 
bra- pistol echoed through the 
cramped walkway. He felt its pre- 
sence before he heard it. There 
was a searing pain in his right 
shoulder, and it forced him to 
release his grip on the Green- 

Far down the corridor, from the 
Inner Rings of the Temple, a sec- 
ond group of Disciples was run- 
ning in his direction— two with 

So now, fear. 

The natural ferocity, the vi- 
dousness was gone, quickly sup- 
planted by fear— which was just as 
good at blotting out his reason as 
ferodty had been. He ran. 

He ran past tapestries, leaking 
his blood on the marble floor. 

He ran down concrete steps into 
darkness with the shouts of the 
men and the sssang of vibra- 
guns roaring behind him. 

He ran in the cool air of evening. 

He ran in the chill wind of 

He ran over highways, his heart 
poimding — but having forgotten, 
in his present state, what a heart 
was. To him , it was a Hreball 
in his barrel chest, a demon in 
his blood. 

He ran wildly. 

He ran swiftly. 

He ran, finally, into the wood^ 
lands, onto the dew grass and 
green rivers of feather -bladed 

And hearing only silence be- 
hind, he fell to the side of thi 
dear stream and wept and panted 
and snarled and drank some 
sparkling water and felt it mingle 
with the blood in his mouth be- 
fore he passed out. 


First Party: 

For hours on end, days on end, 
seemingly without rest or refresh- 
ment, I wandered back and forth 
between the whirling of a disc 
(blue and yellow lines) which 
caused a mist and water spray 
and a large glass globe filled with 
green fog that condensed rapidly 
and ran down the insides to col- 
lect at the bottom. I gathered it in 
steel buckets and carried it to the 
wheel. From the wheel to the 
globe where more buckets wait- 
ed to the wheel where they were 
carried to the next floor for some 
obsciire piu^jose. 



For hours on end, I moved, 
muscles aching. 

For days on end, mouth dry. 

Unable to stop, no matter how 
terribly I wanted to. 

Occasionally, the Bishop of 
Misery would come in with his 
dog to watch. I knew he was the 
Bishop of Misery, but I could not 
imderstand how I knew or what 
the title meant. 

As the hours dragged by, my 
body screamed more loudly for 
relief. I passed out again and 
again but always woke shortly 
with two pails in my hands, walk- 
ing toward the wheel or away from 
it. I could see nothing clearly, 
imderstood it only as an ant might 
imderstand the human foot that 
crushes it. 

And words came to me but had 
no meaning to my numbed mind. 

"I’ll explain it,” said the Bishop 
to a sinularly clad stranger. 

"Please do.” Such proper tones. 

"He carries the water from the 
globe to the lift. Upstairs the same 
water is fuimeled back into the 
glob and introduced over and over 
again into his pails. There are 
only fifty gallons involved in the 

"But for what purpose?” asked 
the stranger. 

"To break his spirit. He is drug- 
ged; he knows not what is hap- 
pening. It’s Hell to him. He sees 
no purpose but caimot stop. When 
he has been at it until his body 
is on its final strands of strength, 
we will let him stop. He will be 

brought out of drugs, hypnosis 
will be employed, and he will be 
told that he was rescued from 
Hell by the Bishop of Misery 
and that he is now in Heaven. 
He will remember none of his 
past life. He will know only that 
I saved him from eternal damna- 

The stranger smiled. "And will 
be loyal as a puppy.” 


"I’ll have to try this in my own 

"It’s a proven technique.” 

"Who was he?” 

"A spy from International. He 
must have suspected something 
about the Second Coming. I guess 
they are worried after the theft 
of the Container of the Holy 

I could not hear all, and it 
wouldn’t have mattered, for I un- 
derstood none of it at the time. 
My mind took it in, and the in- 
fluence of the drug twisted it to 
soimd like devils plotting my next 

It must have been nearly three 
days when I collapsed for good, 
but the time- distorting qualities 
of the drug made it seem like two 
hundred years. 

It is foolish even to mention it, 
but once I was liberated, I wor- 
shipped the Bishop of Misery for 
rescuing me from Hades. Wor- 
shipped him. 

He made me his personal serv- 
ant. He told all his guests that I 
was an International agent. And 



my mind menacingly. There were 
dark shapes swirling in my sub- 
conscious, but they were too elu- 
sive to pin down and examine. 
There was a bear/man named 
. . . The . . . The . . . Theseus. 
But I shied from thinking of the 
dark shapes, for I assumed they 
were devils stUl tangled in my 
head, waiting to take me back 
to Hell. So I fought off the dark 
shapes— the memories. 

He used me for all manner of 

He named me Dunce. 

I answered to it gleefully. 
"Dunce, fetch me a pen. I’ve lost 

"Yes, Master Bishop.” 

And I would run and hunt and 

"Never mind, Dimce. I’ve found 

I was taught to play the guitar 
by roboprofs, and I entertained at 
the banquets, strumming the 
strings, singing melodies and 
words the mechanical teachers 
had implanted forever in my 

The days went by smoothly on 
oiled legs. 

I was fat, stupid, and happy. 

Until I met her. 

Before, all my life, it had been 
money and fre^om and life that 
fascinated me. Never any one 
particular woman for any length 
of time. 

Until I met her. 

was allowed an Angel compan- 
ion every sabbath. Never one of 
the yoimg and pretty ones. I pre- 
sided over them at the baths, mak- 
ing siure only the pretty ones en- 
tered the huge pool to be viewed 
by the Bishop. 

It was all better than Hell. 

I was fat, stupid, and happy. 

Until I met her. 

Jacinda Jada. 

Jacinda: Greek, meaning 
"beautiful, comely.” 

Jada: Hebrew, meaning "wise.” 

Jacinda Jada, the beautiful and 
wise angel. 

Wd passed in the corridors as 
she was carrying a number of 
books toward the Bishop’s quar- 
ters. I accidentally brushed the 
top volrune as I hurried by, and 
all of the tomes went crashing to 
the floor. 

"Sorry,” I said. It was for- 
bidden to converse with the An- 
gels to any degree greater than 

"That’s all right,” she whis- 

It was an exotic voice full of 
grapes and sununer winds and 
sweet fruits and green grass. 

"What is your name?” she 

I was astoimded at her famil- 
iarity and refused to look at her. 
My hands shook as I picked up 
the books. 

"Don’t be frightened. There is 
no one around.” 

It was true; the long hall was 



empty. "I am called Dunce,” I 

"You are very handsome, 

I looked up at her face then, 
and as sounds of summer were in 
her voice, I could see the scenes 
of summer in her countenance. 
Willows bending gracefully above 
a shimmering, cool, green brook. 
Butterflies dancing lightly on 
mellow breezes. Soft clouds in a 
blue sky. Her skin was smooth 
and tanned, her eyes so empty 
blue that I felt as if I were fall- 
ing into them. Indeed, I was 
gripped by a moment of vertigo. 

She smiled. I foimd it a rare 
thing in the lower castes of the 
Temple— a smile like that. 

I handed her (nmnbly, let it 
be said) her books. 

She smiled and was gone as 
the footsteps of several Disciples 
echoed around the bend from the 
adjacent corridor. Vibrating 
through every muscle, my teeth . 
cluttering, I stood there for sev- 
eral moments looking after her, 
trying to remember where I had 
been going. 

I thought of her that night and 
found it hard to sleep. I thought 
of dark hair and blue eyes. I 
thought of moist lips that puck- 
ered slightly, of soft, warm tanned 
arms. Never once did I think of 
an atom bomb and the seconds 
that were swiftly ticking away 
"toward the Second Coming. 

The next day, the Bishop had 
no visitors, and that meant that he 

would— for a length of time- 
come with his dogs to the baths 
to relax and watch his Angels. I 
hoped he would. Perhaps, just 
perhaps, Jacinda Jada would be 
there. (It had been the name on 
her necklace.) Perhaps once 
again I could gaze upon those sky 
eyes and the hair like raven wings. 
And even if she was not present, 
I could ask one of the others 
about her. 

'T think we will go to the baths 
today,” said the Bishop. The dog 
shook his fur clean and sneezed. 

"Yes, Your Reverence.” 

He punched a button on the 
arm of his throne. The sliding por- 
tal opened to admit aGreenmask. 
"Bring the youngest and the fair- 
est to the pool.” 

"Yes, Your Reverence. How 

"I believe fifty will be suffi- 

The Greenmask backed out 

There were seventy floors to 
the Temple, forty undergroimd. 
The building itself covered some- 
thing like nineteen blocks. There 
were thousands of Angels. And 
this was a smaller temple than 
many others. There was little 
chance, out of aU those thou- 
sands, of seeing Jacinda this day, 
this day of all days. But perhaps 
the proper question in the proper 
ear .... 

The baths were steaming pools 
shielded by large, sweeping 



archies that crisscrossed so fre- 
quently that they themselves 
formed the ceiling rather than 
supported it. Large, natural rocks 
formed the sides of the pool. Cut 
and brought all the way from Ja- 
pan’s lava basins especially for 
the Bishop, they were haphazard- 
ly arranged. Tropical flora grew 
within the crevices, sprouting 
wild red and yellow flowers. The 
water was a clear green color 
and waist deep. The floor of the 
pool was a thick, polished sheet 
of nuclear glass gathered from the 
ruins of Old New York. It trem- 
bled inwardly, casting smooth 
pulsations of blue light that rip- 
pled through the pool like under- 
water lightning. 

I was stationed upon a stone 
ledge over the entranceway to 
turnback any Angels who did not 
measure up to the Bishop’s idea of 
beauty. All those who would dis- 
please him would be turned back 
long before they reached the cen- 
ter of the pool. The Bishop liked 
dark complexioned girls. And he 
liked blue eyes. 

The Bishop sat above on a spe- 
cial throne, on the edge of his seat, 
the dog at his side, ears back, 
also tensed. 

And the Angels came in. They 
came through a tunnel that twist- 
ed to a grotto where they had 
been waiting for the Bishop’s 
entry. They were fair-complex- 
ioned and they were dark skiimed 
and they were Negroid. They were 
blonde and they were black-haired 


and they were red-haired. They 
were tall. They were short. I turn- 
ed back the blondes and the red- 
heads, motioned through the Lat- 
in women, the Negroes. 

And the thirty-third in line was 
Jacinda Jada. 

I looked down from my perch 
as she paused in the entrance- 
way for approval. Our eyes met, 
swam out of focus, and settled 
tightly on each other. I stumbled 
over words and felt what I wanted 
to say stapled to my tongue. "It’s 
you,’’ was all that finally issued 
from my dry throat. 

The others were laughing and 
splashing in the water. My faint 
whisper would be hidden from the 
Bishop where he sat a hundred 
feet away. 

"You remembered,’’ she said. 

"I couldn’t forget.’’ 

"You’re the Bishop’s private 

"I’m his companion.” 

"You’re his slave. Dunce. Never 
think differently.” 

I started to disagree. 

"Sshh. You are handsome, 
Dimce. But you don’t seem very 
smart. Then again, not many in 
here have had the opportunity to 
learn the truth. Ajid I don’t mean 
truth to have a capital "T. ” 

The blue light washed the floor 
of the pool, shattering the water 
with psychedelic patterns. I 
couldn’t think of anything to say! 

' 'There is another world outside 
the Temple,” she said finally, 
running her hands easily through 


the multi-patterned water. 

"Of course,” I said. "Hell.” 

"No. Not Hell. My father told 
me. I was bom in this temple, 
but he was not. His hypno-train- 
ing didn’t hold on him. One day, 
his memory came back. He had 
been a great scientist in the out- 
side world. He tried to escape 
then, and they killdd him. But he 
had told me of this other world— 
the one where people may or 
may not be happy, but where 
there is no Bishop of Misery.” 

"I can’t . . . beUeve ... I ... ” 

"You are handsome. Dunce.” 

I felt myself jellying inside 
again. "What do you want?” 

"Out,” she said. "Out.” 

Again the melting inside. And 
something new. Doubt. 

"Dimce, my man!” It was the 

I turned reluctantly. "Yes, Your 

"I will choose a new Angel for 
my secretary.” 

The Angels hushed, and I had 
the feeling each hoped it wouldn’t 
be she. 

"The dark-haired one with you. 
Dunce. The one you seem to be 
spending so much time with. Send 
her to me.” 


At this time, intelligence reports 
reaching the main office of In- 
ternational indicate only thirty- 
odd hours until Second Coming. 
Information secured by direc- 

tional microphones zeroed in on 
New New York Palace of the 

Temples somehow became 
aware of this spring, and most 
personnel were moved deeper in- 
to the temples, away from mike 
range. Doors have been death- 
shielded so not one may enter 
the temples. 

Official opinibn: Second Com- 
ing is near. Temples are alerted 
to International agents. Our only 
man in a position to do anything 
at all is Felix Mandarin. 

. . . Col. A. X. Freeley, Director. 


Second Party 

He was a bear the next morn- 
ing yet. 

His humanity portion had come 
partially back into control, but at 
heart . . . 

His first thought was of food. 

He sat on his haunches as bears 
do, although he could have stood 
erect or nearly so. He sniffed the 
air, turning his huge head first 
one way, then the other. And he 
foimd it. Elusive, sweet, a mel- 
ody transformed into an odor. 

It was in a large, spot-rotted 
tree that bent over a shallow 
pool in the brook. Level with his 
head was a hole in the wood, and 
hanging within could be seen the 
nest, grayish, brain-matter-look- 
ing. The odor was strong and 



sweet and all pervasive. 

His ears pricked up. 

No bees inside. 

Few, anyway. 

With a fur -covered arm, he 
reached in to tear the thing out. 
The pain in his shoulder, erupted 
anew. He jerked his paw back 
out and twisted his head around to 
look at the woimd. There was a 
large, green -black scab forming 
over it. He had cracked it with 
his sudden movement, and thin 
rust-water blood was seeping out 

Lifting his other arm, he 
reached in and tore the nest from 
its attachment to the rotting 
wood. A large-eyed insect came 
crawling out of one of the tiny 
holes, buzzing. He crushed it with 
the ball of his thumb. Shredding 
the nest, he cracked open the 
core like a coconut. 

Rich, warm, sparkling fluid 

He rammed his snout in it, shot 
out his pink tongue to taste and 

He roared and squealed. 

For no other reason he com- 
pletely understood, he felt great 
satisfaction, a pounding of the 
heart transcen^g the satisfac- 
tion of hvmger. 

And fear again. 

He was hurrying, frightened, 
and the human portion of him 
could not fuUy imderstand why. 

Until the buzzing noise like a 
distant saw scraping through 
wood blasted into an angry roar- 


ing above the tree tops. A small, 
black cloud of pencil dots came 
from the west. 

There was so much honey left! 
He sipped faster, panting. And 
then they were on him. Sharp 
stings on the ear. They knew 
where to aim. He roared a great 
laugh, batting at them. Hetvmied 
and ran for the water; and they 

It was an hour of lying mostly in 
water before they went away for 
good, heeding some silent call 
which eluded the senses of mem- 
ber of all worlds but their own. 

His second thought was of Fe- 
lix .. . 


First Party; 

I saw her for the first time the 
day after I betrayed Jacinda at 
the baths. 

She had two silver dollars for 
eyes, and her breasts were cap- 
ped with the heads of small drag- 
ons with large yellow eyes. Sur- 
gically capped. She was led about 
by another Angel, a beautiful girl 
—except for the plasti-flex cheeks 
she had been surgically given to 
show the inside of her mouth- 
red, saliva-covered, rotted teeth. 

They passed without a word. I 
was backed to the wall, eyes wide. 

I remembered the strange duo 
at Sacred Mess and asked the 
Disciple seated next to me if he 
knew of them. "Them was the Bi- 


shop’s women. Was, not is. Ones 
he growed tired of. Them worked 
hard to be regular members of 
his harem; when he was tired of 
them, he made sure no Disciple 
or Priest would get them.” 

My food seemed to grow moldy 
before me. "And you let him 
do it?” 

"Hell, damn. Dunce.” 

"But he’s supposed to be holy!” 

"He is, he is.” The Disciple 
looked up and down the long 
table, but he could see no one 
looking at us. 

"Doesn’t sound holy. Doesn’t 
sound holy at all.” 

"Saved you from Hell, didn’ 


"And weren’t HeU worse? You 
remember Satan?” 

t<J >» 

"Okay, you don’t question.” 


"You remember the tortures? 
You ain’t over eager to go back.” 

I ate in silence. 

You are his slave, Dunce. Ne- 
ver think differently. 

There is a world outside the 

My father told me about it. 

I saw her the second time as I 
was on my way to the Bishop’s 
quarters in answer to a summons. 

She had silver dollars for eyes. 

I reached out and touched the 
heads of the small dragons; she 
and her guide turned to me. The 
small lizards snarled and bared 
white fangs. "The Bishop — I 

"I hate him. I hate him!” The 
words slipped through clenched 
teeth. I ran from her, from the 
bUnd, searching, silver circles. 

Dark forms swayed through my 
mind. Theseus. Scenes swam into 
view. Panic. Accepting them for 
demons, I suppressed and sup- 
pressed and suppressed imtil my 
head ached. 

I had stiunbled to the private 
quarters of His Reverence and 
stood panting, eyes weeping hot 
tears. I leaned against the wall 
to regain my senses. Breathing 
heavily, I finally pushed the 
thumlHCoded button of the por- 
tal, spreading the doors. 

She was there. Seated at the 
foot of the throne, her dark hair 
framing her tanned face, setting 
off her blue-blue eyes. My heart 
began thudding so loudly that I 
feared he would her it. But he 
continued to smile. And it was a 
strange smile. 

"Your Reverence.” I bowed, 
straining to keep my eyes from 
her and from meeting his. 

"Come here. Dunce.” 

I ventured to the foot of the 
royal throne. Light glinted from 
the diamonds in his forehead. 

She was but inches from me! 

"I need your artistic opinion on 
something. Dunce. Do you think 
you could help me?” 

"I don’t understand. Your Rev- 

He produced a hand full of pho- 
tographs. "This Angel has not 



proven as worthy as I had 
thought, and now, I must dis- 
miss her. But, when I dismiss 
an Angel, I leave her with a 
special Mark, a mark of honor 
at having been a Bishop’s wom- 
an. I want you to assist in pick- 
ing this special mark.” 

The photographs were of wom- 
en with diamond eyes and silver 
dollar eyes and eyes with fish- 
bowl globes of water where fungi 

"What do you think?” he asked, 
edging forward on his seat. 

I swallowed hard and thought 
of what the Disciple said at sup- 

Saved you from Hell, didn’t 

And weren’t Hell worse? 

You remember Satan? 

Okay, you don’t question. 

"I find I may be imworthy of 
assisting Your Reverence.” 

"Why not? You seem such an 
aesthetic soul. You learned the 
guitar so well.” 

I looked at Jacinda. Her stare 
was vacant. She was apparently 
under some mild sedative. 

"Well?” he asked, thumbing 
through the photos. 

I didn’t answer. 

"I think this. A window in her 
chest so we may see her heart 
beating, and tusks— little, yellow, 
curved tusks— in her upper lip 
to make kissing impossible.” He 
punched a few buttons on the 
panel of the throne arm, and the 
wall folded open, machinery 

pushing out beside the throne. 

"The robosurgeons,” he said 

There were flashing tubes, 
white eyes of scanning tubes, 
wired arms of steel and flexi- 
plastic that wielded tiny instru- 
ments of fine edges and delicate 
points. There was a table with 

"Go,” he said to Jacinda. And 
she went. Her smooth, taimed 
body stretched out on the white 
table, the dozen artificial arms 
swinging idly above her, waiting 
for coded instructions. 

She was going to let it happen. 
The tiny instruments with fine 
edges and sharp, delicate points 
were going to slice her like so 
much meat and violate the per- 
fectness of her. 

A metal arm swung forward 
as the Bishop coded the first 

The scalpel extended. Without 
warning, I smashed a foot into the 

I screamed, raising the guitar 
that I always brought to the 
Bishop’s quarters, and smashed 
the arms, broke the delicate point 
of the tiny instrument, shattered 
the silver dollar eyes of the scan- 
ning tubes. 

Theseus. International. Some- 
thing snapped inside my head 
and previous training instilled 
long before what the Bishop had 
taught me gained dominance over 
my actions. The Bishop turned 
pale and started to rise as Iwhirl- 



ed on him . His hand reached out 
toward the guard -summoning 
buzzer, trembling . . . 


Second Party 

The bear stood with extended 
claws in an alleyway. An hour be- 
fore, he had seen the dark fig- 
ures of Priests scuttling from a 
concealed door that was carved 
and flush with the Temple wall. 
They had rushed down this alley 
like so many mice chased by so 
many cats. They would, he 
hoped, come back this way. 

Tlie last one had been tall, 
hefty. Just the proper size cloak. 

The blood from other kills ex- 
cited his memory. 

He raked claws over cement 
walls and smelled dust rather than 


First Party: 

She was cuddled in my arms, 
the sedative shocked out of her, 
her tears wet on my shoulder. 
And somewhere above, the Bi- 
shop of Misery was lying in a 
large red pool of his own mis- 

"Come on,” I said. "We’ve rest- 
ed enough. We have to get out.” 

"There is no way out. You 
should have left him—” 

"Sshh. I’m not Dunce anymore. 

I’m Felix. Felix Mandarin. Your 
father was right; there is an out- 
side world. I came from it, and 
I’m going back— with you.” 

She looked at me, the tears 
like gems in the blueness of eyes. 

"And we will get out. There 
isn’t any question about it.’.’ 

"But there are four guards 
at each exit to the Outermost 

"You’re certain? Four?” 

"Yes. My father was one before 
the Bishop had him executed.” 

Four. Most likely, with vibra- 

My knees jellied for a moment. 
There had been no siren or an- 
nouncement. The Bishop had not 
been found dead with his dog. But 
four men with vibra-pistols . . . 

"We don’t have a choice. Let’s 
move out.” 


Second Party 

In a few minutes, scurrying, the 
Priests treaded their way around 
the rubbish cans, coming down 
the alley. Single file. 

One past. 

Two past. 

Three past. 

He grabbed the tall fourth and 
tore at his throat, feeling blood 
bubble over the matted fur of 
his hands, smelling it, seeing it 
make steam in the cool night air. 
Ghost steam in the darkness. The 
sound of the others nmning 



drowned out the scuffle between 
bear and man. 

He slipped the Priest’s rode off, 
left the body behind in old coffee 
grounds and newspapers, and 
hurried after the others, cloaked 
in the hooded blackness of clerical 

The inside of the temple was rel- 
atively dark, candles illiuninating 
only the side altars. He followed 
those in front, his robe fluttering 
behind him, walking like a man 
rather than shuffling as he usual- 
ly did. 

He passed by a dark ceU in a 
narrow hallway of the Second 
Ring, and suddenly he felt a judo 
chop to his neck that brought him 
hke a lead weight to the floor. A 
pair of strong arms cushioned his 
fall so that he would make no 
noise to attract the fast retreating 
Priests that had been walking in 
front of him. He reached up with 
a red-stained claw to fend off the 
attacker when a voice said softly 
and with a great deal of astonish- 
ment, "Theseus! It’s you!” 


First Party: 

I slapped his thick body, pound- 
ing at the fur, laughing imder my 

"Damn, I thought you’d be 

"Not dead. Not dead.” He was 
crying a little, I think. 

"But how—” 

"Escaped that night. Scared. 
Run. Come back FeUx to get.” 

He was looking curiously at Ja- 
cinda. And she at him. 

Briefly, I related our story to 
him and his history to her. She 
accepted him quite readily. 

"What we do?” he asked. 

"Now, with our original com- 
plement, I guess we should try to 
find out what we were sent to find 
out.” I had almost forgotten about 
the mission until I saw Theseus 
again. I told Jacinda the story. 
Atom bombs, end of the world 
through Second Coming, every- 
thing. And seeing her, I knew I 
didn’t want the end of the world. 
Never. Ever. 

She looked at me again with 
empty blue. "Then we die. But 
why would they want to die. The 
Bishops, the Priests—” 

"They’ve built a retreat for 
the Hierarchy. A pleasure palace 
on the flatlands of Canada, twenty 
square miles. It will hold Bishops 
and Priests and a niunber of 
thousands of Angels. It’s a fall- 
out shelter. Though how one 


I looked at her and Thes 

"What is it?” 

"Tonight. We were told that aU 
Priests and Bishops were to meet 
this night for a retreat, a spiritual 
meeting with the Holy Form to 
plan the Second Coming. A num- 
ber of Angels were to go along. 
The announcement was made a 



week ago. Those who would not 
attend the retreat were told to 
worship the entire time— and to 
leave the doors to the Innermost 
Ring open as a sign of the near- 
ness of Nirvana to Heaven, and to 
welcome the Second Coming.” 

I looked down the narrow hall 
at the fake fire of the simutorches. 
"Where is the Innermost Ring?” 

"I can show you its entrance 
though I have never been through 

I took the robe from Thes and 
walked ahead of them, back the 
way Jacinda and I had come. She 
directed from behind, and we 
turned comer after comer, going 
deeper into the Temple. 

"Stop a moment,” she whisper- 


"The last five rings will be 
guarded by Disciples.” 

"How many?” 

"Two at each intersection.” 

The sirens suddenly wailed 
sharply like the ooga horn of a 
submarine. "They’ve found the 
Bishop,” she cried. 

There was a patter of running 
feet down the hallway. Thes and 
Jacinda pressed against the lead- 
off passage we had just lef, and 
waited while I walked out into the 
corridor. More Priests. 

"Ho! What’s happening? Why 
the sirens?” I shouted. 

A fat one stopped, puffing, 
while the others ran ahead. 
"They’ve killed His Reverence. 
There’s an International agent 

loose in the building. We’re mov- 
ing to Haven three hours earlier 
than planned. The Prophet Incar- 
nate spoke to most of us from New 
New York. He ordered us to leave 
now with two thousand Angels. 
Run. The Innermost Ring has 
been opened for transport.” 

He was gone, waddling. 

I turned to the others. "You 


"It sounds like the Innermost 
Ring holds a method of reaching 

"What do, Felix?” 

My hands were shaking beneath 
the concealing folds of the robe. 
"I can make it to the Innermost 
Ring in this cloak. And Jacinda 
should be allowed through since 
they’re taking Angels. But you— ” 

There was a pounding of feet 
on marble’ more Priests running. 
I looked at Thes, at his rough, 
animal -lined face. "You know 
what to do?” 

He nodded and stepped back 
into the shadows. 

"Ho! Why the sirens? Do we 
leave early for Haven?” I grab- 
bed the arm of one of the flee- 
ing and held him. 

"Let go, you damn fool! 
They’ve invaded the Temple! The 
Prophet incarnate has moved up 
the horn: of the Second Coming.” 

I moved him so that his back 
would be to Theseus. The other 
Priests were out of sight by now. 

His neck snapped like a dry 



He crumpled, his face, thick 
with beai^, f allin g out of the 
hood, his eyes momentarily bug- 

Then we were two priests mov- 
ing down the long passage toward 
the Innermost Ring, Jacinda be- 
tween us, naked, frightened. We 
came to the first group of guards 
and rushed by. 


"Keep going,” I whispered. 

We ran. 

The second group was waiting 
for us. "No Angels through this 
entrance. What is this? Trying to 
take a favorite? What is this re- 
treat all about, anyway?” Ob- 
viously they were being kept ig- 
norant of the fact that they would 
die within hours. 

"Yeah,” said a second guard. 
"Why all the nmning? You’d 
think the Temple was starting to 
blow up or somethin’.” 

"She is ordered to go up this 
route,” I said, thinking quickly, 
"by command of the Prophet In- 

They paled. "His own.” 

I didn’t wait for any more back- 
talk. We plunged ahead. We seem- 
ed to have been running forever, 
and still there was a long way 
to go. 

"Just how far?” I asked. 

"Two more blocks,” she an- 

And we made it. 

Too late. 

"Too late,” said a Greenmask 
standing in front of the portal into 

the Innermost Ring. Inside, be- 
hind him, there was a shimmer- 
ing swirling greenness that one 
could not look upon very long 
without experiencing nausea, 
without the mind wandering dan- 
gerously into the intricacies of its 

"Fool! This is the special of the 
Prophet Incarnate. His own!” 

He stumbled a moment, unsure, 
but he was too damn duty-bound 
to relent. "Too late.” 

I brought up my foot, kick- 
ing the vibra- pistol out of his 
hand. He screamed for help. Thes 
was upon him that instant, mak- 
ing certain he would have noth- 
ing with which to scream the next 

There were shouts. The sssang 
of a vibra-gun echoed as a beam 
boimced off the wall above my 

Grasping her hand, my other 
arm around Thes’ shoulder, we 
plimged into the greenness of the 
Innermost Ring and found there 
was no floor, no bottom . . . 


Second Party 

Like a window that has always 
had rain splattered against it, dis- 
torting the view . . . 

Like the water had stopped run- 
ning somewhat and shapes on 
the other side were made 
clearer . . . 

Like, you know, like this was 



happening to him, the bear. 

Things in his mind, whirling, 
hunting new and better order. 

Like, you know, like cleaning 
up a cluttered house. 

But only somewhat . . . 


First Party: 

We were all screaming. Thes 
seemed to have a different qual- 
ity to his scream, though. As if 
it were a different fear from the 
one that plagued Jacinda and 

I noticed red numbers drift- 
ing by, painted on the walls. I 
thought that either the marks 
were terribly far apart or that we 
were falling much more slowly 
than it seemed. Short calculations 
decided the right answer, we were 
falling slowly. By now, falling at 
a normal rate of speed, we should 
have been splattered all over the 
basement floor. 

Then we ceased screaming and 
looked aroimd. 

And Jacinda started scream- 
ing again. 

I saw why. It was spider-like, 
blue-black, many-legged, and as 
big as a horse. It was crawling 
through the greenness (rather 
swimming through it) toward us, 
mandibles clacking. 

"He’s swimming in it,” I 
shouted. "Maybe we can too.” 

We touched the side wall and 
found hand holds. Climbing up. 

we moved away from the spider. 
Then we were standing on a 
stone ledge— facing a door on 
the other side of the chamber. 
We edged around to it. I pushed 
through first. There was no one 
at all in sight. Thes and Jacinda 
came behind me. A sign on the 

"But we left from Philadel- 
phia,” I murmured. 

I looked back into the swirl- 
ing mists and could see the spi- 
der, red-eyed, trying vainly to 
push out of the green vapor. 
"It’s a central pit that connects 
all temples. The red numbers tell 
you which Temple of the Form 
is which, and where to get off.” 

"But the spider.” She was shak- 

"He can’t get out. My guess is 
that we traveled a great many 
miles horizontally by falling ver- 
tically. Now that’s impossible in 
this universe. Therefore, we must 
have entered another dimension 
that touches ours, has probably 
been bent to touch ours at every 
Innermost Ring in every temple 
on both Earths. Jf that’s the case, 
then every Innermost Ring con- 
tacts this other universe at the 
same point; therefore, all Inner- 
most Rings— in a sense— exist at 
the same point in space-time.” 

"I don’t understand,” she said. 

Neither did I, but the implanted 
physics and space-time theorem 
that Training Central had im- 
bedded in my brain was working 
with a life of its own. Training 



had given me those so that I 
could analyze any weapon I might 
come across. This, I was starting 
to suspect, was some kind of wea- 
pon as well as a means of trans- 

i'hen with a club (and I felt 
the pain mentally) the pieces fell 
together into one large picture of 
horror, destruction, and— tritely 
enough— perilous danger. "All 
they have to do,” I said, my im- 
planted mathematical theory 
fimctioning again, "is destroy the 
Innermost Ring at Haven, have 
a bomb pushed into the Inner- 
most Ring of any temple in the 
world, and every city with an 
Innermost Ring will go up in ra- 
dioactive dust. 

She looked at me. At the spider. 

"If all the Innermost Rings 
exist together in space-time, a 
bomb exploded in one will ex- 
plode in all with equal force, de- 
stroying both Earths, wiping out 
all cities with one bomb. Each 
temple will take its city, and the 
Second Coming will be realized.” 

It was all too much for her (not 
to mention me), and Thes was 
quite quiet. 

"We have to find that bomb,” 
I snapped. "Otherwise, it’s all 
over for us.” And looking into her 
blue, I knew I didn’t want to check 
out of existence just yet. 

Together, we dived back in to 
search the greenness for a 
bomb . . . 


Second Party: 

Like that window not only be- 
ing cleared of water but being 
cleaned . . . 

Not even that even . . . 

Like that window being cleaned 
and then broken so that he/ 1 
could look directly out onto the 
world with no obstructions, with 
perfect clarity . . . 

Like I started to cry (first person 
now). Like when you’re young 
and you have no mother but a 
glass and metal and plastic womb, 
like you understand it better, with 
more terror when you are sudden- 
ly grown and must face it all at 
once . . . 

Well, I cried like a baby, like . . . 


First Party: 

When we came out again, the 
spider after us, Thes was crying. 

"Are you all right?” 

"I ... I ... ” 

I grabbed his massive shoul- 

"I can see! My God, I can see!” 

And I didn’t get it. I was, think- 
ing of optical; he meant mental. 
He babbled it out in the first gram- 
matically correct words I had ever 
heard him utter. 

We rejoiced. The field holding 
the dimensions together must 
have opened new synapses, un- 



clogged old areas of the brain, 
freeing him. I felt like patting him 
on the head and realized that 
would be a mistake now. 

"No bomb, though,” I said. 
"And 9:05.” 

"They could be setting it off any 
moment,” Theseus said. 

I was still astounded by his new 

I looked into her blue, tore my- 
self out of vertigo, and holding 
hands, jumped with them into the 

On the fourth try, we found it. 
Temple New New York. It was a 
good guess, and that’s all. We 
thought, maybe, since the bomb 
had been stolen in New New York 
and the Temple of the Prophet 
Incarnate was there, that it would 
be a likely laimching point for the 
Second Coming. 

It was. And the bomb was there 
too. It was perched at the 
doorway with an automatic trig- 
gering device bolted to its belly. 

Any child could dismantle an 
A-bomb if he has read his his- 
tory and had an instructor in 
P.O.D. who allowed him to prac- 
tice on dummies. I didn’t even 
have to resort to Training. I just 
thought back to primary school. 
An old teacher who made herself 
look twice as old by the way she 
dressed, saying: "And if you see 
one lying in a field unexploded. 

you take the silver thing-a-bob- 
bie right here and lift back its 
hat. You will see two golden 
wires. Don’t touch. Never touch 
the gold. Cut the blue ones that 
run through the other end. Then 
you have stopped the big, bad 

"I have just stopped the big, 
bad bomb,” I announced. 

We sighed as a trio. 

And she looked up into my 
brown and said, "I think I am 
going to faint.” 

"Before you do,” I said, holding 
her steady, "say you’ll marry 

Her blue widened, and she was 
no longer whoozy. 

Third Party: 

I tried to cover myself with 
both hands (and it doesn’t work). 
For the first time in my life of 
twenty-two years, I minded my 

First Party: 

Yeah, dam. 

Second Party: 

And I never thought I’d be a 
best man! 

First Party: 

So damn blue! 

The End 




David R. Bunch (THE MONSTERS; AMAZING, November, 1968, 
ANY HEADS AT HOME?; FANTASTIC, Februanj 1969) is ob- 
viously one of Your Editor’s passions; I think that Bunch is one of 
the twenty or thirty best writers of the short-story in English and I 
think that HOW IT ENDED — which is the latest in his con- 
troversial and acclaimed “Moderan” series — is worth anybody’s 
Nebula or Hugo nomination. 


The end of the world started small 
that day. Casually, in high greeny- 
blue summer . . . 

I remember well what 1 was do- 
ing — even what I was think- 
ing — that precise instant it started. 
It was in the time of the Summer 
Truces. We had completed late our 
great Spring Wars that year and we 
were all somewhat exhausted, 
though dehciously happy. Many 
honors had been won, many 
Strongholds shattered to shambles 
and many the gun lids that were 
hanging, and the ramparts in many 
places were crying for shoring. But 
we were a fulfilled group that last 
summer, we who had survived, hate- 
happy to the extreme, ready for Joys 
and in all cases planning for mean 
points in our own Stronghold com- 
plexes. Yeahh! Summer Truces ! ! 

Then a wump bomb hit far to the 
north. I heard it on my detectors and 
it made a queer dry sound. I knew 
right away it had hit something that 

wasn’t properly a wump bomb 
target. And in all Moderan truth it 
should not have been out there at aU, 
not in the Truces. And what were 
those strange little blips and bleeps 
coming across on my Viewer Plate? I 
would have thought them from shat- 
tered slivers and shards of thin new- 
metal, but that seemed unlikely. No 
one in his right Moderan mind 
would use a wump bomb on a flimsy 
metal objective. The wumps were for 
ultimate ultimate blasting and 
heaviest waves of destruction. They 
were designed for the Strongholds 
and the deep-down bunkers of con- 
crete and new-made steel. 

There were many points of con- 
jecture. Out here thinking it over on 
this small last mountain of plastic, 
leaving these notes on the permo- 
tapes in my mind as a last record, 
watching the flesh-mutant men 
finish tearing our once great land 
back to where it all began, I cannot 
be sure. I can only replay the con- 



jectures. Privately, I think it might 
have been an accident. I think it 
might have been that a bomb-happy 
Stronghold master was just firing a 
jubilee leftover wump to the far void 
in celebration of the end, finally, of 
the long spring season of war; it had 
stretched on through early summer. 
And this wump could have hung in 
the launch shng just for that too- 
long instant. (It happens, but it hap- 
pens usually in war, and who could 
care then?) Instead of winging then 
on that beautiful far trajectory that a 
normal firing would have insured, it 
fell then, crazily off course, really on 
no course at all, into a neighbor’s tin 
flower bed. And in that flower bed a 
thing more precious to him than 
Strongholds was ... So it’s rumor 
and conjecture. But so many times in 
aU the history of the world an ac- 
cident has been so much more 
pertinent than all the careful plans. 
And I think it was again. 

I do remember, and I remember 
well all that happened in those few 
quick instants that settled the fate of 
us all — 1 remember a frantic garble 
on my Warner Phone. I could not 
translate, but I recall having the 
thought that it sounded not so much 
like a warning full of hate as much 
as it sounded like an apology, or an 
argument for understanding. 
“Forgive, FORGIVE, and let’s enjoy 
the Summer Truces,” I remember 
thinking in those first few seconds, 
though I was much occupied. Of 
course I had no way of knowing then 
even a conjecture toward the 
enormity of the transgression that 
might have been, and my only hint 
was those strange out-of-place blips 
and bleeps on my Viewer Plate. 

The transgressed Stronghold 
replied, of course. Even in the 
pleasantest times of the Summer 
Truces you couldn’t let old neighbor- 
ing Stronghold to the right or to the 
left, in front or behind, have at you 
with a wump bomb. Retaliation, 
swift and sure, was our right in any 
season. Retaliation brought reply in 
deadly earnest, but even so, in those 
first few moments, we might have 
limited the war. We could have en- 
joyed a little show on our Viewer Ex- 
panders than of two red-hot 
sorehead Strongholds having a GO 
when they should have been in deep 
truces. But we didn’t act when ac- 
tion was of the essence. Just say that 
statesmanship was at a low ebb that 
day with us aU. We muffed the ball. 
We played with our new-metal 
mistresses; we stroked the new- 
metal kittens, stacked the cards of 
indifference and “drank” the punch- 
introven when we should have been 
saving the world. 

Treaties were honored honored 
and honored. Oh, how they honored 
those treaties in the north! And the 
war spread swiftly south. In five 
minutes we had aU entered and 
Moderan awoke to the terrible 
knowledge that it was high tide and 
rising. (I will say this, I far to the 
south was the last to get in the 
blasting. But honesty, always and all 
ways, makes me hasten to admit 
that it was not statesmanship. — 
Where is she now? Oh, what lump 
of cindered metal now in some far 
lost place is she with whom I played 
those fateful crucial instants when 
I should have been saving the world? 
But 1 wiU say, with her life-switch 
full to ON and 1 toggled to passion- 



frantic, she was very good that day. 
Oh, all for love and the world — ^well? 

Our world went down, DOWN, 
that war. It was the END. From a 
small, casual, and I say accidental, 
start of one wump bomb in the 
wrong place that day, it built fast 
through the mounting moments of 
havoc. Thinking of it now, far in the 
last retreatable comer of our lost 
world, I cannot say just why it buUt 
to such forcible min. We had fought 
many many wars in our glorious 
past and had come through with our 
great battle-dead, honors, and our 
Strongholds only partially shattered 
to shambles. But in ten minutes this 
time Moderan was gone. 

Most of us quite early, thinking 
fast and doing the right planned 
thing, even in the midst of hard- 
pressed final war, had delivered our 
families out. And that might have 
been tmly our finest instant. I, after 
deep self-debate, even thumbed 
loose the wump zeroed to White 
Witch Valley, where the wife lived 
and plotted with the last of her plas- 
tic men. The mercy shots had already 
gone home to the country of Litde 
Brother and Little Sister, shattering 
them to high skies and all winds in 
that province where they awaited 
the hours of “replacement.” And 
with mercy taken care of we settled 
down to war. 

It was ultimate ultimate gunning, 
ultimate hate hardware on the wing 
or walking. Whatever else may be 
said, it is tme that we brought the 
world to a high starry state of de- 
velopment not only in hate attitude 
but also in the hardware to make 
that attitude so much more than an 
empty dream or a gesture. And rU 

always, even to the last of my in- 
troven, even unto that final final in- 
stant just before the flesh-strips 
starve and I become a few shaped 
metal parts in some flesh-mutant’s 
dusty brag museum, remember that 
beautiful moment. A moment, whose 
like the world may never see again, 
when the air over all the world was 
almost one solid sheet of explosives. 
Rockets were hitting their brother 
rockets on the wing and bringing off 
tremendous detonations. The mighty 
wumps, engineered to stand such 
mid-air collision and still home on 
to their designated programmed kill 
were nudging each other mightily 
in the air. The walking doU bombs, 
those magical horror-things designed 
to take the low road to their rendez- 
vous with destruction, fought each 
other on the plastic. Some passed on 
safely and well to their programmed 
assignation of find - and - destroy; 
some in the thickness of this traffic 
fought each other so staunchly for 
the right of passage that they ex- 
hausted their horror and left their 
punch right there with each other. 
Some mighty battle god sitting far 
in the vapor shield on a cloud shaped 
like pillage that day could probably 
have had himself the one show of 
his life. (All vaunted feats of fire- 
power and destruction in the Old 
Days — even Dresden under the 
bombers, Tokyo with the firebombs 
and Hiroshima and Fat Boy — all 
these rolled into one flame-and-bang 
must have only as the front-leg kick 
of a sick lightning bug compared to 
this. YES! we were really blasting 
that day!) But Tm convinced there 
was no god for us anywhere that 
day — just the sick greeny-blue va- 



por shield of poisoned August stand- 
ing out there in a sky gone suddenly 
for us endless and terrible, far- 
spreading and indifferent witness to 
the self-destruction of a world. 

And seeing the game was gone 
truly for the showdown I turned at 
last to my GRAND GRAND ULTI- 
MATE. It was the GRANDY WUMP! 
a weapon so terrible that I had to 
set my brain to Cold Thoughts Wide 
and Heedless to be able even to stand 
the knowledge that I held such dread 
firepower in the palm, as it were, of 
my new-metal hand. This thing my 
Corps of Engineering for the Final 
Solutions of Problems had discov- 
ered for me just a few whiles back, 
and I had been saving it tight to 
spring as SURPRISE, or for some 
future practical need. Or perhaps 
just as an argument of conquest. 1 
had been debating. But now the de- 
bate seemed over; the GRANDY was 
forced to my hand. To come out 
alive, with some semblance of my 
world left, was stiU my atm. Only 
my Stronghold would be left, and 
that a thing much shaken, but from 
that we could rebuild. So I thumbed 
it loose from where it nestled in its 
launch gear deep in the guts of my 
great Stronghold. the Grandy 
Wump! a thing so much improved 
over the common wump that the 
comparison could be that of a feath- 
er in the Old Days falling on to a 
common mountain as opposed to 
another mountain falling on that 
mountain. And so you see? 

To guard well the secret of the 
Grandy Wump I had installed it — 
which I felt sure was the one-and- 
only of its kind in all the world — 
deep in the center of my great de- 

fense-offense complex. NaturaUy I 
was aware that its launching would 
tear floors and perhaps lift the en- 
tire roof from my Stronghold. But 
for complete secrecy and to be the 
lone possessor of such power I was 
wflling to pay the price. Yes! nearly 
anything. The moment of its thumb- 
ing loose HAD to be a heady mo- 
ment for me; my new-metal heart, 
without any manual change in its 
settings, raised up such a great 
bang-and-boom beat as I had never 
known before. TO HAVE THE 
WORLD! my brain and heart 
thought together as my thumb 
flicked to the launch knob. 

What happened? WHAT HAP- 
PENED? — ^To have the world and 
then not to have the world. WHAT 
HAPPENED!? I do not cry for un- 
derstanding. I do not cry for sym- 
pathy. I do not cry. Oh God, god or 
gods, I do not. But I must leave it 
here on the tapes — WHAT HAP- 

The second I thumbed it loose, 
I knew. Oh, how I knew! when the 
air started filling with rooftops. 
Words and sounds I do not have 
to speak of this vile deed vilely 
enough; this thing defeats all lan- 
guage of the world. But I must try — 
for the tap>es: Sticky-fingered, con- 
niving, cheating, dishonest, lying, 
untrustworthy, dishonorable, low 
LOW, flesh-encumbered little new- 
metal vile Stronghold masters who 
would steal, how had they? Oh God 
or gods, or whatever, if ever, tribu- 
nal or agency of higher judgment 
ever anywhere, judge them, judge 
them now! Grind their memory un- 
der heaviest wheels of Justice; take 
any good deeds, if ever, ever done 



by them and regard those out-of- 
character happenings as amongst 
the most heinous monster-jokes 
that have ever been. Oh, this limited 
language! With its strongest words 
of indictment much too weak I can- 
not bemean these people even a 
thousandth part of a small fraction 
of their deserts enough. But let’s ask 
all agencies of Justice, if any there 
be or any hint of any, and let these 
agencies, if any there be, or any 
hint, chase the flesh-strip ghosts of 
these vile Stronghold masters, now 
deceased, throughout all the uni- 
verses of coming time and ask them, 
ask them like cold winds down icy 
valleys of snow mountains in chilli- 
est places, like conscience in the 
WUMP from honorable Stronghold 
10?” Cl was Stronghold 10,) 

Yes, world to come, they did that. 
When my roof went with the 
Grandy, and almost immediately 
I saw other roofs start lofting to 
the skies, I knew. Not only had they 
stolen my secret, but vile, vile to the 
last and plotting, apparently they 
had installed detective devices to^ 
steal my moment of firing. Oh, how 
close I came to being caught asleep 
then. What if they had fired first? 
It does give one pause, doesn’t it? 
Monstrous men I 

For I believe truly that the eye- 
blink moment of my firing first 
saved me. I cannot explain it in any 
other way, either that or sheerest 
sheerest luck and a miracle, and, 
as you should know, I do not believe 
in either of these. I believe in hard- 
ware, firepower abundant and the 
smack to the Stronghold first. But 

being saved, the last surviving 
Stronghold master, what gains it? 
My world is gone, all flattened and 
in rubble, even my Stronghold, 
everything finished by the most 
sophisticated weapon ever made, 
the Grandy Wump. 

From somewhere, within hours, 
the little flesh-mutants came, howl- 
ing over the rubble. Where had 
they been? Yes, we had known that 
a certain number of them existed. 
Even in the highest-shining times 
of shining Moderan a few flesh-mu- 
tants were always around, gibber- 
ing over the plastic, hiding in deep- 
dowrl holes, living in cracks and 
crevices of our plastic-yard-sheet 
land. A few of us had them in our 
Strongholds from time to time, for 
laughs, for diversion, amused as 
they talked their nonsense out of 
hissing holes instead of communi- 
cating by our good Moderan meth- 
ods of mechanical voice boxes and 
phfluggee-phflaggee buttons in the 
hands. But none of us regarded 
them seriously, I believe, or gave 
the least thought to how they lived. 
At least and for sure 1 didn’t. I, one 
of the shining masters of the world, 
grand in the high per cents of my 
new-metal steel “replacements” 
with my flesh-strips few and played 
down — I had no serious time for 
such filthy, soft, mushy creatures. 

And now the mutants come from 
everywhere! rolling on in, tearing 
it all back to NOTHING. In one 
howling onslaught, just be being, 
they are carrying the Dream far 
back past darknesses we had been 
far in advance of even on the first 
full day of shining Moderan. To 
watch them must be my punish- 



ment, I suppose, as I wait on the 
last plastic mountain (though I do 
not know why I should receive pun- 
ishment). I, the greatest and last of 
the great GREAT Stronghold mast- 
ers, (once very staunch in my new- 
metal steel “replacements”), the 
most refined thing that had ever 
been . . . going down before this 
wave of evil flesh coming and stUl 
coming . . . 

But wait! Before they reach this 
totally exposed little stronghold that 
is left me, my little plastic moun- 
tain, and claw it down in their howl- 
ing brutish momentum that seems 
unstoppable now, let me set one 
thing straight in the tapes. If there 
had been honor in the world, 
amongst my neighbors, if they had 
not stooped to the vile theft of my 
war secret, perhaps to save their 
unworthy selves, I should have won 
the war. Then my Stronghold would 
have been left to me, and these 
mushy creatures out here would 
have meant nothing. Any time I 
chose I could have swept them back 
to their deep-down holes and their 
crevices with a maximum weapons 
fire. They would have served as my 
clowns and diversion then, not my 
executioners. Oh, they would have 
kept to their places, all right. So 
you see, it is evil in others that seals 
one down, especially one’s thieving 
neighbors stealing war secrets. 

And another thing, since my 
mind goes clear here at the last and 
I’m thinking of everything, what 
was it in that tin garden when the 

wump bomb hit, what thing was it 
the Stronghold master regarded 
higher even than Strongholds? 
Don’t laugh, don’t laugh! I think it 
was his new-metal mistress out for 
a small summer stroll in the tin 
flower beds, and before he had en- 
joyed his Joys. And that explains 
the strong little blips and bleeps 
on my Viewer Plate. Small bits of 
new-metal would have shown thus; 
tin bits from tin flowers would not 
have registered at all. 

Thus I leave you, for the moun- 
tain shakes now at the base. — If 
these tapes survive, and if there is 
any creature anywhere, in the fu- 
ture times, who has a machine 
sophisticated enough to give them 
life, perhaps it will be worth con- 
jecturing why Moderan was ended. 
■Was it because of evil in the world 
and common theft? Or perhaps 
you’d rather think of it as all the 
fault of a woman who should have 
been serving her function in her 
master’s great bedrooms instead of 
strolling in the flower beds. Or if 
you’ve a simpler turning of mind 
you may see the end as a happen- 
ing inevitable for soon or late, the 
natural result of all that firepower. 
But I say NO! no, to that — no, to 
the end — not if my neighbors had 
played fair! I would have, from the 
GRANDY WUMP safety of my su- 
perior, specially endowed Strong- 
hold, been able to shatter them to 
high skies and all winds then in 
relative security, thus winning ME 
the war and saving ALL the world ! 

The End 






A few words from our new film reviewer: 

. . At the moment of writing, this is the only regular film col- 
umn in a science-fiction magazine. The author has been film editor 
for two other magazines; his most recent book in the field is A 
PIECE OF MARTIN CANN (Belmont Productions, Inc.) 

“I’ve had 31 books published and between 300 and 400 magazine 
pieces. I’ve never written a movie but, what with one thing or 
another, I see a good many of them. It is even possible that I have 
become a critic, or a film editor from sheer exposure; or, perhaps, 
from the bite of a radioactive lens cap . . .” 

ROSEMARY’S BABY was, and is, a 
fine example of how to make the 
printed horror tale convincing to 
those readers who have little ex- 
perience of adult horror-tales and ht- 
de liking for the usual musk which 
takes the place of atmosphere in 
those writers (a clear majority) who 
cannot write. Its careful blend of the 
real and the fantastic urged con- 
viction as well on virtually aU other 
readers, including your harassed 
reviewer; Mr. Ira Levin, until its 
publication a one-book author (A 
pendium of virtually all the best in 
its form; but could he repeat? 
Probably not), is now a two-book 
author — which means, in practice, 
an n-book author unless he gets run 

Roman Polanski, who has a fine 
gift for individual scenes of terror 
and a very odd sense for narrative 
flow (he varies between flat cuts and 
slow cuts, mosdy, and I have never 
been able to find the principle 
behind his choice of one or the 
other), clearly saw the special virtue 
of Mr. Levin’s novel. He has written 
a script, and directed a movie, which 
follows that novel with touching 
fidelity; and all I can think of is 
Virginia Woolf’s comment on a 
technically perfect book: “But how if 
life should refuse to reside there?” 

It is extraordinarily difficult to 
fault this movie. True, John Cassa- 
vetes presents us with a perform- 
ance straight out of the stock draw- 
er, but the fact is hardly vital; the 
difficulties of his part are such that 
(Continued on page 139) 




W-> i-,‘ , .-^^S ^ ^ :f‘: :, '.' ' ’ :-... ■ 



Ever wonder where authors get their stories? We'll 
give you strong odds on how this one was cooked up. 
John Wyndham, one morning, was shoved into a '' 
hondon subway {the “tubes,” you know), found 
himself being ground to powder by his fellow 
travelers, said, “I must say, this is a hell of a 
place!” — and a ^tory was born. 

And that's the way to become a writer. All you 
need is paper, pencil and subway fare! 

N ever again,” Henry Baider said to himself, once he 
had been condensed enough for the doors to close, 
[“never again will I allow myself to be caught up in this.” 

It was a decision he had expressed before, and would 
[probably, in spite of its face value, express another day. 

■ But, in between, he did do his best to assure that his i 
S infrequent visits to the City should not involve him in the i 

Copyright 1953 by Ziff-Davis Pub. Co. 


rush hour. Today, however, al- 
ready delayed by his business, he 
faced the alternatives of vexing 
his wife by delaying still further, 
or of allowing himself to be drawn 
into the flood that was being 
sucked down the Bank Station 
entrances. After looking unhap- 
pily at the moving mass and then 
at the unmoving bus queues, he 
had squared his shoulders. “After 
all, they do it twice a day and 
survive. Who am I — ?” he said, 
and stepped stoutly forward. 

The funny thing was that no- 
body else looked as if he or she 
thought it a sub-human, stock- 
yard business. They just waited 
blank-eyed, and with more pa- 
tience than you would find in a 
stockyard. They didn’t complain, 

Nobody got out at St. Paul’s 
though the increased pressure 
suggested that somebody had in- 
explicably got in. The doors at- 
tempted to close, drew back, 
presumably because some part of 
somebody was inexpertly stowed, 
tried again, and made it. The 
train drew heavily on. 

The girl in the green mackin- 
tosh on Henry’s right said to the 
girl in the blue mackintosh who 
was jammed against her: “D’you 
think you actually know when 
your ribs crack?’’ but on a phil- 
osophical note of fair comment 
rather than complaint. 

Nobody got out at Chancery 
Lane, either. A lot of exhortation, 

shoving and staggering achieved 
the impossible: somelx)dy more 
was aboard. The train picked up 
speed slowly. It rattled on for a 
few seconds. Then there was a jolt 
and all the lights went out. 

Henry swore at his luck as the 
train drew up, but then, almost 
the instant it had stopped, it 
started to pull again. Abruptly he 
discovered that he was no longer 
supported by the people round 
him, and flung out an arm to save 
himself. It struck something yield- 
ing. At that moment the lights 
came on again, to reveal that the 
object struck had been the girl in 
the green mackintosh. 

“Who do you think you’re — ? ’’ 
she began. Then her mouth stayed 
open, her voice failed, and her 
eyes grew rounder and wider. 

At the same moment Henry 
had started to apologize, but his 
voice, too, cut out, and his eyes 
also bulged. 

He looked up and down the 
coach that a moment ago had 
been jammed solid with people to 
the last inch. It now contained 
three others besides themselves. A 
middle-aged man who was open- 
ing his newspaper with an air of 
having been given his due at last; 
opposite him a woman, also mid- 
dle-aged, and lost in contempla- 
tion ; at the other end of the coach, 
in the last seat, sat a younger- 
looking man, apparently asleep. 

“Well, really!” said the girl. 
“That Milly! Just wait till I see 



her in the morning. She knows I 
have to change at Holborn, too. 
Getting off and leaving me with- 
out a word!” She paused. “It 
was Holborn, wasn’t it?’ she 

Henry was still looking dazedly 
about him. She took hold of his 
arm and shook it. 

“It was Holborn, wasn’t it?” 
she repeated, uncertainly. 

Henry turned to look at her, 
but still with a vagueness in his 

“Er . . . what was Holborn ? ” 
he asked. 

“That last stop — where they 
all got out. It must’ve been Hol- 
born, mustn’t it?” 

“I . . . er . . . I’m afraid I 
don’t know this line well,” Henry 
told her. 

“I do. Like the back of my 
hand. Couldn’t be anywhere but 
Holborn,^’ she said, with self- 
convincing firmness. 

Henry looked up the swaying 
coach, past the rows of strap- 
handles emptily aswing. 

“I . . . er . . . didn’t see any 
station,” he said. 

Her head in its red knitted cap 
tilted further back to look up at 
him. Her blue eyes were troubled, 
though not alarmed. 

“Of course there was a station 
— or where would they all go 

“Yes . . said Henry. “Yes, 
of course.” 

There was a pause. The train 
continued to speed along, sway- 
ing more and jerking more now 
on its lightly loaded springs. 

“The next’ll be Tottenham 
Court Road,” said the girl, though 
with a touch of uneasiness. 

The train rattled. She stared at 
the black windows, growing more 

“Funny,” she said, after a 
while. “Funny-peculiar, I mean.” 

“ Look here,” said Henry. “Sup- 
pose we go and have a word with 
those people up there. They might 
know something.” 

The girl glanced along. Her ex- 
pression showed no great hopes of 
them, but: “All right,” she said, 
and turned to lead the way. 

Henry stopped opposite the 
middle-aged woman. She was 
dressed in a well-cut coat sur- 
mounted by a fur cape. An inch 
or two of veil fringed the round 
hat on her carefully dressed dark 
hair; her shoes, on the end of al- 
most invisible nylon stockings, 
were black patent-leather with 
elegant heels; both her gloved 
hands rested on the black leather 
bag on her lap as she sat in absent 

“I beg your pardon,” said 
Henry, “but could you tell us the 
name of the last station — the 
one where all the other people 
got out?” 

The lids rose slowly. The eyes 
regarded him through the fringe 



of veil. There was a pause during 
which she appeared to consider 
the several reasons which could 
have led such a person as Henry 
to address her, and to select the 
most becoming. Henry decided 
that no-longer-young was perhaps 
more apposite than middle-aged. 

“No,” she said, with a slight 
smile which did not touch the 
matter. “I’m afraid I didn’t 

“ It didn’t strike you that there 
was anything . . . odd about it?” 
Henry suggested. 

The lady’s well-marked eye- 
brows rose slightly. The eyes pon- 
dered him on two or three levels. 

“Odd?” she inquired. 

“The way they all went so very 
quickly,” he explained. 

“Oh, was that unusual?” said 
the lady. “It seemed to me a very 
good thing; there were far too 
many of them.” 

“Quite,” agreed Henry, “but 
what is puzzling us is how it hap- 

The eyebrows rose a little 
higher. “Really. I don’t think I 
can be expiected to — ” 

There was a harrumph noise, 
and a rustling of newspaper be- 
hind Henry. A voice said: “Young 
man. It doesn’t seem to me to be 
necessary for you to bother this 
lady with the matter. If you have 
any complaints, there are proper 
channels for them.” 

Henry turned. The speaker was 
a man with graying hair, and a 

well-trimmed moustache set on a 
pinkly healthy face. He was aged 
perhaps fifty-five and dressed 
City-comme-il-faut from black 
Homburg to dispatch case. At the 
moment he was glancing inter- 
rogatively towards the lady, and 
receiving a small, grateful smile 
in return. Then his eyes met 
Henry’s. His manner changed 
slightly; evidently Henry was not 
quite the type that his back view 
had suggested. 

“I am sorry,” Henry told hirh, 
“but this young lady may have 
missed her station. Besides, it 
does seem rather odd.” 

“ I noticed Chancery Lane, so 
the rest must have got out at 
Holborn — that is obvious, 
surely,” said the man. 

“But they went so quickly.” 

“A good thing too. The people 
in charge must have found some 
new method of handling the traf- 
fic. They’re always developing 
new ideas and techniques, you 
know — even under public owner- 

“But we’ve been going on for 
nearly ten minutes, non-stop, 
since then, and we’ve certainly 
not passed a -station,” Henry ob- 

“Probably been re-routed. 
Technical reasons, I expect,” said 
the man. 

“Re-routed! On the under- 
ground?” protested Henry. 

“My dear fellow, it’s not my 
job to know how these things 



work — nor yours, I take it. We 
have to leave it to those who do. 
That’s what they’re there for, 
after all. Take it from me, they 
know what they’re up to, even 
though it may seem ‘odd,’ as you 
call it, to us. God bless me, if we 
don’t have faith in our expert 
authorities, where are we?” 

Henry looked at the girl in the 
green mackintosh: She looked 
back at him. She shrugged slightly. 
They went and sat down, further 
up the coach. Henry glanced at 
his watch, offered her a cigarette, 
and they both lit up. 

The train rattled along to a 
steady rhythm. Both of them 
watched the windows for the sight 
of a lighted platform, but they 
could see no more than their own 
reflections against outside black- 
ness. When there was no more of 
the cigarette to hold, Henry 
dropped the remains on the floor 
and ground it out. He looked at 
his watch again, then at the girl. 

‘‘More than twenty minutes,” 
he said. ‘‘That’s impossibility, 
raised several powers.” 

‘‘It’s going faster now, too,” 
the girl observed. ‘‘And look at 
the way it’s tilted.” 

Henry regarded the hanging 
straps. There could be no doubt 
that they were running down an 
appreciable incline. Glancing for- 
ward, he saw that the other couple 
was now in quite animated con- 

‘‘Shall we try them again?” he 

“ — never more than fifteen 
minutes, even in the rush hour. 
Absolutely never,” the lady was 
saying as they came up. ‘‘I’m 
afraid my husband will be so wor- 
ried about me.” 

“Well?” inquired Henry, of 
the man. 

“Certainly very unusual,” the 
other conceded. 

“Unusual! Nearly half an hour 
at full bat without a station? It’s 
absolutely impossible,” said 

The other regarded him coldly. 

“ It is clearly not impossible be- 
cause it is being demonstrated 
right now. Very likely this is 
some underground escape-route 
from London that they constructed 
during the war, and we have been 
switched on to it in error. I have 
no doubt that the authorities will 
presently discover the mistake 
and bring us back.” 

“Taking them a long time,” 
said the girl. “Due home before 
this, I am. And I got a date at 
the Pallay this evening.” 

“We’d better stop the train,” 
said the lady. Her eyes were on 
the handle, with its notice that 
threatened £5 for improper use. 

Henry and the other man looked 
at one another. 

“Well, if this isn’t an emer- 
gency, what is?” demanded the 

“Er . , .” said Henry. 



“The authorities — ” the other 

“All right,” she announced-. “ If 
you men are afraid to touch it, 
I’m not.” She reached up, took 
firm hold of the handle, and 
yanked it down. 

Henry dropped into a seat 
quickly, pulling the girl down too 
before the brakes should go on. 

The brakes did not go on. 

They sat' waiting. Presently it 
became a fair bet that the brakes 
were not going to go on. The lady 
pushed the handle up impatiently 
and pulled it down again. Nothing 
happened. She expressed her opin- 
ion of it. 

“Cor! Listen to her! Did you 
ever?” said the girl beside Henry. 

“Fluent. Have another ciga- 
rette,” said Henry. 

The train clattered and swayed 
along, the straps still hanging 
with a forward slant. 

“Well,” said the girl, after a 
time, “this properly dishes my 
date at the Pallay all right. Now 
that Doris’ll get him. D’you think 
I could site them?” 

“I’m afraid not,” Henry told 

“You a lawyer?” 

“Well, as a matter of fact, yes. 
Suppose we introduce ourselves. 
It looks as if we shall have to 
spend some time here, whatever 
they do. I’m Henry Baider.” 

“Mine’s Norma Palmer,” said 
the girl. 


The City man said: “Robert 
Forkett,” and nodded slightly to 

“Barbara Branton — Mrs., of 
course,” said the lady. 

“What about him?” asked 
Norma, pointing to the man at 
tho far end of the coach. “D’you 
think we ought to wake him, and 
tell him?” 

“I don’t fancy it would help 
much,” said Mr. Forkett. He 
turned to Henry. “I understood 
you to say you were a legal man, 
sir. Perhaps you can tell us just 
what our position is in this mat- 

“Well, speaking without my 
references,” Henry told him, “I 
should say that in the matter of 
delay, no claim by us would lie. I 
think we shall find that the Com- 
pany only undertakes to pro- 
vide . . .” 

Half an hour later he became 
aware of a weight pressing lightly 
against him. Looking round, he 
found that Norma had gone to 
sleep with her head on his shoul- 
der. Mrs. Branton, on the other 
side, had also dozed off. • Mr. 
Forkett yawned and apologized. 

“Might as well all have a nap 
to pass the time, though,” he 

Henry looked at his watch 
once more. Practically an hour 
and a half now. Unless they had 
been going in a closed circle, they 
must have passed beneath several 
counties by this time. The thing 


remained incomprehensible. 

To. reach a cigarette he would 
have had to disturb the girl, so he 
remained as he was, looking at the 
blackness outside, swaying slightly 
to the train’s motion, listening to 
the ti-tocketty-tock, ti-tocketty- 
tock, ti-tocketty-tock, of the hur- 
rying wheels until his head drooped 
sideways and rested on the knitted 
cap on his shoulder. 

The change of rhythm, the 
slight shuddering from the brakes 
brought Henry awake; the rest 
stirred a moment later. Mr. 
Forkett yawned audibly. Norma 
opened her eyes, blinked at the 
unexpected scene, and discovered 
the situation of her head. She 
sat up. “Well, I never,” she said, 
regarding Henry. He assured her 
it had been a pleasure. She be- 
gan to pat her hair and correct 
herself according to her reflection 
in the still dark window opposite. 
Mrs. Branton reached under her 
cape and consulted a fob-watch. 

“Nearly midnight. My hus- 
band’ll be quite frantic.” 

The sounds of slowing con- 
tinued to descend the scale. Pres- 
ently the windows ceased to be 
altogether black; a light, rather 
pinkish compared with the lamps 
inside, started to show, and grad- 
ually to grow stronger. 

“That’s better,” said Norma. 
“ I always hate this tunnel.” 

The light grew brighter still, 
the speed dwindled, and presently 
they were running into a station. 
They leaned forward to catch the 
name, but could see no plate on 
the wall. Mrs. Branton, on the 
other side, suddenly craned across. 

“There!” she said. They turned 
quickly, but not soon enough. 

“It was something Avenue, or 
Avenue something,” she said. 

“Well, we’ll soon find out now,” 
Mr. Forkett reassured them. 

The train drew up, with a sigh 
from the braking system, but the 
doors did not open at once. There 



was a sound of echoing commo- 
tion further along the platform, 
out of which voices presently dis- 
tinguished themselves calling: 
“All change!” — "End of the 
line!” — “All out here!” 

“All very well — all change, in- 
deed!” murmured Norma, get- 
ting up and moving towards the 

The others followed her. Quite 
suddenly the doors ran back. 
Norma gave one look at the figure 
standing on the platform. 

“Ee-ow!” she yelped, and 
backed violently into Henry. 

The figure wore little clothing. 
What there was seemed to be 
chiefly straps holding appurte- 
nances, so that it was revealed as 
angularly male, in a rich ma- 
hogany red. Ethnologically, per- 
haps, the face might have been 
North American Indian, only in- 
stead of feathers it wore a pair of 
hlDras. Its right hand carried a 
trident; its left dangled a net. 

“All out!” it said, moving a 
little aside. 

Norma hesitated, then scuttled 
past it. The others followed warily 
but more sedately, and joined her 
on the platform. The creature 
leant into the open doorway, and 
they were able to observe his back 
view. The tail was waving with a 
slow, absent-minded kind of mo- 
tion. The barb at the end of it 
looked viciously sharp. 

“Er . . began Mr. Forkett. 

Then he changed his mind. He 
cast a speculative eye on each of 
his companions in turn, and pon- 

The creature caught sight of the 
sleeper at the other end of the 
car. He walked down and prodded 
him with his trident. There was 
some inaudible altercation. The 
creature prodded a few more 
times, and presently the man 
came out to join them, with the 
sleep not yet out of his eyes. 

There was a shout higher up the 
platform, followed by a sound of 
running feet. A tough-looking 
young man came sprinting to- 
wards them. A net whistled after 
him and entangled him so that he 
fell and rolled over and over. A 
hearty shout of laughter came 
from the other end of the plat- 

Henry glanced about. The dim 
rosy light was strong enough for 
him to see and read the station’s 

“Something Avenue!” he re- 
peated under his breath. “Tch- 

Mrs. Bran ton overheard him, 
and looked at it. 

“Well, if that doesn’t spell 
‘Avenue,’ what does it spell?” 
she demanded. 

Before he could reply a voice 
began to call: “This way out! 
This way out!” and the creature 
motioned them on, with its trident 
at the ready. The young man 
from the other end of the coach 



walked next to Henry. He was a 
large, forceful, intellectual-looking 
young man, but still not quite 
clear of the mists of sleep. 

“What is all this nonsense 
about?” he said. “Collecting for 
the hospitals or something? No 
excuse for it, now we’ve got the 
Health Scheme.” 

“I don’t think so,” Henry told 
him, “in fact. I’m afraid it doesn’t 
look too good.” He indicated the 
station nameplate. “Besides,” he 
added, “those tails — I don’t see 
how it could be done.” 

The young man studied the 
sinuous movements of one of the 

“But really . . .!” he pro- 

“What else?” inquired Henry. 

Altogether, and exclusive of the 
staff, there were about a dozen 
people collected at the barrier. 
They were passed through one by 
one while an elderly demon in a 
small hutch checked them off on a 
list. Henry learnt that the large 
young man was entered as Chris- 
topher Watts, physicist. 

Beyond the barrier was an 
escalator of a somewhat anti- 
quated type It moved slowly 
enough for one to read the adver- 
tisements at the sides: prepon- 
derantly they offered specifics for 
burns, cuts, abrasions and bruises, 
with here and there the recom- 
mendation of a particular tonic or 

At the top stood an ill-used 
looking demon with a tray of tin 
boxes suspended against his chest. 
He was saying monotonously: 
“All guaranteed. Best quality.” 
Mr. Forkett who was in front of 
Henry caught sight of the card 
on the tray, and stopped abruptly. 
The lettering ran : 


£1 or $?50 (U.S.) 

“That’san insult to the pound,” 
Mr. Forkett announced indig- 

The demon looked at Mr. 
Forkett. He thrust his face for- 
ward aggressively. “So what?” 
he demanded. 

Pressure of those behind pushed 
Mr. Forkett on, but he moved re- 
luctantly, murmuring about the 
necessity for confidence, stability 
and faith in sterling. 

After crossing a hall they passed 
into the open. There was a faint 
tang of sulphur in the air. Norma 
pulled on the hood of her mackin- 
tosh against the light drizzle of 
cinders. Trident-bearers shep- 
herded them round to the right, 
into a wire-netted enclosure. Three 
or four demons followed in with 
them. The last paused to speak 
to the, guard on the gate. 

“Heaven’s harps, is that celes- 
tial bus behind time again?” he 
asked resentfully. 

“ Is it ever on time nowadays?” 
the gate demon asked. 

“Never used to have these 



holdups when the old man was 
running his ferry,” grumbled the 

‘‘Individual enterprise, that 
was,” said the gate demon, with a 

Henry joined the others who 
were surveying the scene. The 
view to the right was rugged and 
extensive, though smoky. Far 
away, at the end of a long valley, 
could be seen a brightly glowing 
area in which large bubbles formed, 
rose slowly, and took tantalizingly 
long to burst. To the left of it a 
geyser of flame whooshed up in- 
termittently. At the back right a 
volcano smoked steadily, while 
little streams of red hot lava 
trickled down from its rim. In the 
middle distance the valley walls 
narrowed in two towering crags. 
The one on the left bore the il- 
luminated sign: TRY HOOPER’S 
HIDEHARD. The other pro- 
claimed: UNBURN IS THE AN- 

A little short of the right-hand 
crag, on the level valley floor, 
was a square encampment sur- 
rounded by several fences of 
barbed wire, and overlooked by a 
guard tower at each corner. Every 
now and then a string of flaming 
arrows would fly tracer-like into 
the compound from one of the 
towers, and the sound of howls 
mixed with demonic laughter 
would be borne faintly on the sul- 
phurous breeze. From that point 

one was able to follow the road as 
it wound up and past them to the 
station entrance, A building op- 
posite the station appeared to be 
a barracks where demons were 
queueing up to sharpen their 
tridents and touch up their tail- 
barbs on a grindstone in the yard. 
The whole thing struck Henry as 
somewhat conventional. 

Almost opposite their netted 
enclosure was a kind of gibbet. It 
was occupied at the moment by a 
lady with nothing on who was 
hanging suspended upside down 
from chains round her ankles 
while a couple of junior demons 
swung on her hair. Mrs. Branton 
searched in her bag, and found a 
pair of spectacles. 

‘‘Dear me! Surely not . . .” 
she murmured. She looked more 
carefully. ‘‘So difficult to tell that 
way up, and with the tears run- 
ning into her hair. I’m afraid it is, 
though. Such a nice woman, I al- 
ways thought, too.” 

She turned to the nearest 
demon. ‘‘Did she commit a mur- 
der, or something dreadful?” she 

He shook his head. “No,” he 
said. “She just nagged at her 
husband so that he would find 
another woman and she would be 
able to divorce him for the ali- 

“Oh,” said Mrs. Branton, a 
little flatly. “Is that all? I mean, 
there must have been something 
more serious, surely?” 


amazing stories 

“No,” said the guard. 

Mrs. Bran ton remained thought- 
ful. “Does she have to do a lot of 
that?” she asked, with a trace of 

"Wednesdays,” said the guard. 
“She does other things other 

“Pss-t!” a voice hissed sud- 
denly in Henry’s ear. One of the 
guard demons beckoned him aside. 

“Want to buy a bit of the real 
stuff?” inquired the demon. 

“What stuff?” Henry asked. 

The demon brought his hand 
out of his pouch. He opened it and 
showed a metal tube which looked 
as if it might contain toothpaste. 
He leant closer. 

“The goods, this is. Best an- 
algaesic cream on the whitemar- 
ket. Just rub it on every time 
before tortures — you’ll not feel 
a thing.” 

“No, thank you. As a matter 
of fact, I think they’ll probably 
find there’s been a mistake in my 
case,” Henry told him. 

“Come off it, chum,” said the 
demon. “Look. I’ll take a couple 
of pounds — special to you, that 

“No thanks,” said Henry. 

The demon frowned. “You’d 
better,” he advised, shifting his 
tail into a threatening position. 

“Well — one pound,’’ said 

The demon looked a little sur- 
prised. “Okay. It’s yours,” he 
said, and handed it over. 

When Henry rejoined the group, 
he found most of them watching 
three demons exuberantly chasing 
an extensive, pink middle-aged 
man up the opposite mountain- 
side. Mr. Forkett, however, was 
reviewing the situation. 

“The accident,” he said, raising 
his voice a little to contend with 
the increased lowing of sinners in 
the concentration camp, “the ac- 
cident must have occurred be- 
tween Chancery Lane and Hol- 
born stations, that’s fairly clear, 
I think. What is not at all clear 
to me, however, is why I am here. 
Undoubtedly, there has been a 
departmental error in my case 
which I hope will be rectified 
soon.” He looked speculatively at 
the rest. Everyone became 

“ It’d have to be a big thing, 
wouldn’t it?” asked Norma. “I 
mean, they wouldn’.t send a per- 
son here for a little thing like a 
pair of nylons, would they?” 

“Well, if it was only one pair 
of nylons — ” Henry was begin- 
ning, but he was cut short by an 
exclamation from Mrs. Branton. 
Following her gaze, he saw a 
woman coming down the street 
in a magnificent fur coat. 

“Perhaps this place has an- 
other side to it that we’ve not 
seen yet,” she suggested hope- 
fully. "After all, where there are 
mink coats — ” 

“She doesn’t look very pleased 
with it, though,” Norma re- 



marked, as the woman came 

“ Live minks. Very sharp teeth,” 
observed one of the demons, 

There was a sudden, startling 
yelp behind them. They turned 
to observe the dark young man, 
Christopher Watts, in the act of 
twisting a demon’s tail. The 
demon .yelped again, and dropped 
the tube of analgaesic cream it 
had been offering him. It at- 
tempted a stab with its trident. 

“Oh, no, you don’t!” said Mr. 
Watts, skillfully avoiding the 

He caught the trident by the 
shaft and wrenched it out of the 
demon’s hand. ‘‘N.ow!” he said 
with satisfaction. He dropped the 
trident and laid hold of the tail 
with both hands. He swung the 
demon twice round his head and 
let go. The demon flew over the 
wire-netting fence and landed in 
the road with a yell and a bump. 
The other demons deployed and 
began to advance upon Mr. 
Watts, tridents levelled, nets 
swinging in their left hands. 

Christopher Watts squared up 
to them, grimly watching them 
come on. Then, suddenly, his ex- 
pression changed. His frown gave 
place to a smile. He unclenched 
his fists and dropped his hands to 
his sides. 

“Dear me, what nonsense all 
this is!” he said, and turned his 
back on the demons. 

They stopped abruptly and 
looked confused. 

A surprising sense of revelation 
came over Henry. He saw quite 
clearly that the young man was 
right. It was nonsense. He laughed 
at the bewildered look on the 
demons’ faces, and heard Norma 
beside him laughing too. Pres- 
ently, all the party was laughing 
at the discomforted demons who 
looked first apprehensive, then 

Mr. Christopher Watts strode 
across to the side of the enclosure 
which faced up the valley. For 
some moments he regarded the 
smoky, luridly somber view. Then : 
"I don’t believe it!” he said 

An enormous bubble rose and 
burst in the fiery lake. There was 
a woomph! as the volcano sent up 
a mushroom cloud of smoke and 
cinders, and spilt better, brighter 
streams of lava down its sides. 
The ground trembled a little un- 
der their feet. Mr. Watts drew a 
deep breath. 

said loudly. 

There was a loud crack. The 
dizzy crag which bore the recom- 
mendation for UNBURN split 
off and toppled slowly into the 
valley. Demons on the mountain 
side dropped their hunting, and 
started to lope homewards with 
cries of panic. The ground shook 
violently. The fiery lake began to 
empty into a huge split which had 



opened in the valley floor. A 
tremendous gush of flame burst 
from the geyser. The mighty crag 
on the other side heeled over. 
There was a roaring and a crash- 
ing and a hissing of steam all 
around them, and through it Mr. 
Watts’ voice bawled again : 


Suddenly, all was quiet, as if it 
had been switched off. All was 
black, too, with nothing whatever 
to be seen but the lighted win- 
dows of the train where it stood 
on the embankment behind them. 

“Well,” said Mr. Watts, on a 
note of cheerful satisfaction. 
“Well, that’s that. Now let’s go 
home again, shall we?” And by 
the light from the train windows 
he began to scramble up the em- 

Henry and Norma moved to 
follow him. Mr. Forkett hesitated. 

“What’s the matter?” Henry 
asked him, looking back. 

“I’m not sure. I feel it’s not 
quite . . . not quite . . 

“You can’t very well stay here 
now,” Henry pointed out. 

“No — no, I suppose not,” 
Mr. Forkett admitt^ and, half- 
reluctantly, he too began to climb 
the embankment. 

Without any spoken agreement, 
the five who had previously trav- 
elled together again chose a coach 
to themselves. They had scarcely 
got aboard when the doors closed 

and the train began to move. 
Norma sighed with relief and 
pushed her hood back as she sat 

“Like being halfway home al- 
ready,” she said. “Thank you 
ever so much, Mr. Watts. It’s 
been a real lesson to me, it has, 
though. I’ll never go near a stock- 
ing counter again, never — except 
when I’m going to buy some.” 

“I’ll second that — the thanks 
part, I mean,” said Henry. “I 
still feel that there was very 
likely some confusion between the 
legal and the common view in my 
particular case, but I’m extremely 
obliged to you for . . . er . . . 
cutting the red tape.” 

Mrs. Branton held out a gloved 
hand to Mr. Watts. “Of course, 
you’ll realize that it was all a 
stupid mistake that I should be 
there, but I expect you’ve saved 
me hours and hours of dealing 
with ridiculous officials. I do hope 
you may be able to come and dine 
with us some time. I’m sure my 
husband will want to thank you 

There was a pause. It length- 
ened, Gradually the realization 
that Mr. Forkett was not taking 
his cue drew all their eyes upon 
him. He himself was gazing in a 
pensive way at the floor. Presently 
he looked up, first at them, and 
then at Christopher Watts. 

“No,” he said. “I am sorry, 
but I cannot agree. I am afraid I 
must continue to regard your ac- 



tion as anti-social, if not actually 

Mr. Watts, who had been look- 
ing rather pleased with himself, 
showed first surprise, then a 

“I beg your pardon?” he said 
with genuine puzzlement. 

“You’ve done a very serious 
thing,” Mr. Forkett told him. 
“There simply cannot be any 
stability if we do not respect our 
institutions. You, young man, 
have destroyed one. We all had 
confidence in this affair — even 
you, to begin with — then you 
suddenly go and break it all up, 
an institution of considerable 
standing, too. No, I really cannot 
be expected to approve of that.” 

The rest of them stared at him. 

“But Mr. Forkett,” said Norma, 
“surely you wouldn’t rather be 
back there, with all those demons 
and things?” 

“My dear young lady, that is 
scarcely the point,” Mr. Forkett 
reproved her. “As a responsible 
citizen, I must strongly oppose 
anything that threatens to under- 
mine public confidence. There- 
fore, I must regard this young 
man’s action as dangerous; verg- 
ing, I repeat, upon the subver- 

“But if an institution is 
phony — ” began Mr. Watts. 

“That too, sir, is beside the 
point. If enough people believe 
in an institution,.then it is impor- 
tant to those people — whether it 

is what you call phony or not.” 

“You prefer faith to truth?” 
said Mr. Watts scornfully. 

“You must have confidence, 
and if you have that, truth fol- 
lows,” said Mr. Forkett. 

“As a scientist, I consider you 
quite immoral,” said Mr. Watts. 

“As a citizen, I consider you 
unscrupulous,” said Mr. Forkett. 

“Oh, dear!” said Norma. 

Mr. Forkett pondered. Mr. 
Watts frowned. 

“Something that is real isn’t 
going to fall to bits just because I 
disbelieve in it,” observed Mr. 

“How can you tell? The Roman 
Empire was real enough once — 
as long as people believed in it,” 
replied Mr. Forkett. 

The argument continued for 
some little time, with Mr. Forkett 
growing more monumental, and 
Mr. Watts more fundamental. 

Finally Mr. Forkett summed 
up his opinion: “Frankly, your 
iconoclastic, revolutionary views 
seem to me to differ only in name 
from bolshevism.” 

Mr. Watts rose to his feet. 
“The consolidation of society on 
faith, irrespective of scientific 
truth, is the method of a Stalin,” 
he observed, and withdrew to the 
other end of the car. 

“Really,” said Norma, “I 
don’t know how you can be so 
rude and ungrateful to him. 
When I think of them all with 
their toasting forks, and that poor 



woman hanging there without a 
stitch on, and upside-down, 

‘‘ It was all quite appropriate to 
the time and place. He’s a very 
dangerous young man,” said Mr. 
Forkett firmly. 

Henry thought it time to change 
the conversation. The four of 
them chatted more generally as 
the train rattled on at a good 
speed, though not as fast as it had 
descended. But after a time the 
talk began to wilt. Glancing up 
the coach, Henry noticed that 
Mr. Watts had already gone to 
sleep again, and felt that there 
was no better way of spending the 

He awoke to hear voices shout- 
ing; “Stand clear of the doors!” 
and to find that the carriage was 
full of people again. Almost as his 
eyes open^, Norma’s elbow stuck 
into his ribs. 

“Look!” she said. 

The straphanger in front of 
them was interested in the racing 
part of his paper, so that the front 
page faced them with the head- 
SMASH — 12 DEAD. Under it 
was a column of names. Henry 
leaned forward to read them. The 
holder of the paper lowered it to 
glare indignantly, but not before 
Henry had noticed his own name 
and those of the others. 

Norma looked troubled. 

“Don't know how I’m going to 

explain that at home,” she said. 

“You get my point.?” inquired 
Mr. Forkett on Henry’s other 
side. “Just think of the trouble 
there’s going to be straightening 
this o\it — newspapers, coroners, 
heaven knows what. Not a safe 
fellow to have about. Quite anti- 

“ I don’t know what my hus- 
band is going to think. He’s such 
a jealous man,” remarked Mrs. 
Bran ton, not without satisfaction. 

The train stopped at St. Paul’s, 
thinned somewhat, and then went 
on. Mr. Forkett and Norma pre- 
pared to get out. It occurred to 
Henry that he might as well get 
out, too. The train slowed. 

“Don’t know what they’re go- 
ing to say in the office, seeing me 
walk in. Still, it’s been ever so 
int’resting, really. Ta-ta for now, 
everyone,” said Norma, and wrig- 
gled into the departing crowd 
with the skill of long practice. 

A hand grasped Henry’s arm 
as they stepped on to the plat- 
form. “There he is,” said Mr. 
Forkett. He nodded ahead. Henry 
saw the back view of Mr. Watts 
preceding them up the platform. 
“Can you spare a few minutes? 
Don’t trust the fellow at all.” 

They followed up the escalator 
and round to the steps which 
brought them to the surface in 
front of the Royal Exchange. 

There, Mr. Watts paused and 
( Continued on page ]07) 




JUustrttor; Emdi 




We’d Ukefpr you to meet Stac Fuoss. Handsome guy, wouldn’t you 
say? Tall, good build, not tough but quite capable. A little on the 
cynical side, we’ll admit, but how can you be filled with the milk 
of human kindness if you’re not human? 

No, we don’t mean he’s a robot. Robots are metal, coated wires 
and cybernatic brains. Stac bleeds when he’s cut, staggers after his 
eighth martini, loses his temper if he’s pushed. But what is much 
worse: his mind is like yours and mine. That enables him to 
dream . . . and dreams can be fatal when you're an android! 

Part I 

F uoss cracked his knuckles and 
pushed the empty glass across 
the bar. He took a pull on his cig- 
arette, driving the smoke into his 
lungs as hard as he could. He ex- 
haled a doughnut-shaped cloud 
that broke against the bartender’s 

“Want another one, Mister?” 

the bartender asked. 

Fuoss bit down hard, enjoying 
the pressure on his teeth. “I’ll 
take one.” 

The bartender picked up the 
glass. “I don’t think she’s coming 
in tonight.” 


“Carol. It’s a little late for her 
to be in.” 

“Carol who?” 

Copyright 1953 by Ziff-Davis Pub. Co. 


“You kidding, Mister?” 

Fuoss pushed the stub of his 
cigarette into an ashtray, took out 
another one and waited for it to 
light. “I never knew a Carol in my 
life. You trying to sell me on a 
friend named Carol?” 

“You know how many of these 
you’ve had. Mister?” The bar- 
tender held the glass up. 

Fuoss bit down again. “You 
keeping tab?” 

“Sure I am. I was just wonder- 
ing if you knew.” The bartender 
poured a finger of lemon juice into 
his mixer. “You’re an android, 
aren’t you?” 

“What’s that got to do with 
it?” Fuoss cracked his knuckles in 
the opposite direction. 

The bartender added syrup and 
gin. “Carol’s human. Grew up on 
the block. I remember the first 
time she came in here, with this 
look on her face daring me to say 
she wasn’t old enough.” The bar- 
tender, who was a bulky man, was 
apparently used to having glob- 
ules of sweat tremble on his fore- 
head. “Carol’s human,” • he re- 
peated, without raising his glance 
from the mixer. 

Fuoss’s stool clattered on the 

The bartender looked up. The 
door shut loudly. The bartender 
ducked under the bar and ran to 
the door. He looked through the 
glass but couldn’t see anything, so 
he opened the door and stuck his 
head outside. A sound of footsteps 


came from down the street, but 
the street lamp in front of the bar 
cut off his vision. 

The bartender quirked his mouth 
up at the comers and dilated his 
nostrils. He went back inside the 
bar, set the stool up, and drank 
the Martini himself. 

In sleep, the conscious mind — 
that cohabitant collection of mis- 
directed clockwork — is quiescent, 
and the dramatic subconscious is 
free of its restraints. 


Fuoss’s day began. Usually, the 
shift from subconsciousness back 
to conscious thought was so pre- 
cise that he was able to believe 
that he never dreamt, but this 
morning the fatigue of the pre- 
vious day’s unusually hard work 
held him on the borderline. 

Seven-thirty, then, in the clock’s 
modulated voice, and Fuoss let 
the end of a snore trickle out of his 
nostrils, closed his mouth, and 
scratched a buttock, but was not 
yet completely awake. 

Seven-thirty and a half. Recall 
the length and complexity of the 
dream that comes between the 
first alarm and the subsequent 
feel of the bedside carpeting un- 
der your feet as you gather your 
pajama bottom back up to your 
waist. Mohammed knocked a glass 
from a table, bent, caught it, and 
lived a lifetime in the interval. 

Fuoss pushed the clock’s cutoff 
and walked to the bathroom, 


skirting his wife’s bed. He shaved 
and showered, walking back Into 
the bedroom with his pajamas 
over his arm. He went to the night 
table between the twin beds, 
picked up a cigarette, then sat 
down on his bed instead of taking 
fresh underwear out of the bureau 
and dressing. 


His wife had awakened. She 
turned her head and looked at 
him, raising a hand to brush the 
hair out of her eyes. “You’re not 
getting dressed. What’s the mat- 

Fuoss widened his eyes and re- 
laxed them, trying to come fully 
awake. “I don’t know,’’ he said. 
“I had this dream just before I 
woke, and I’ll be damned if I can 
remember it. Guess I just sat 
down for a minute, trying to re- 
member it.’’ 

“Is that all?” Lisa smiled. 
“Why let a dream bother you?” 
She stretched her arms at her 
sides, bending them upward at 
the elbows. “Kiss me good morn- 

Fuoss smiled, threw the ciga- 
rette into an ashtray, and bent 
over the bed. “Does sound silly, 
doesn’t it? Can’t get the idea out 
of my head that it’s important, 

Lisa raised her lips. Her swollen 
eyes and mouth were crusted at 
the corners. Fuoss kissed her ab- 

“Stac! What in the devil’s the 

matter with you this morning?” 

Fuoss shook his head. “I don’t 
know. It’s that damned dream. 
I haven’t felt right since I woke 
up. Can’t pin it down.” 

Lisa frowned. “Whatever it 
was, I don’t like it. From the way 
you kissed me, you’d think it was 
about another woman.” 

Fuoss felt a jab of guilt. He got 
up from Lisa's bed and walked 
over to the bureau. The taste of 
Lisa’s unwashed mouth was on 
his lips, and he yanked at the top 

“If I knew I wouldn’t be both- 
ered about it, would I?” He 
dressed rapidly. “Do I have to kiss 
you like Don Juan every morn- 
ing?” He went to the night table 
and picked up his watch and keys. 
“Haven’t got time for breakfast, 
now. I hope Brownfield’s wife 
finally had her kid, so Tom can get 
back to the office. I’m getting sick 
of doing his work overtime with- 
out getting paid for it.” 

Lisa made an impatient sound, 
got up and walked toward the 
bathroom. She slept naked. Fuoss 
watched her. 

“Arms and legs,” he said. “Two 
of each, perfectly molded, at- 
tached with correct smoothness, 
and equally smoothly articulated 
and muscled. Breasts and hips — 
also two of each — and superbly 
useless for. anything but play. All 
this equipment joined to a sculp- 
tured torso, and the entire work 



of the designer’s art surmounted 
by a face with just enough delib- 
erate irregularities to make it ap- 

Lisa turned, a half-frightened 
look on her face. “What did you 

Fuoss smiled with restrained 
bitterness. “That was just Cul- 
ture S, Table C Fuoss reading 
specification on Culture L, Table 
S ditto. My wife, by the grace of 
Section IV, Paragraph 12 of the 
Humanoids Act of 1973, and the 
General Aniline Company, Hu- 
manoids Division. Good morning, 
Mrs. Mannikin — ” 

Whatever it was that had been 
fermenting in him suddenly came 
to a head. “Why the hell don’t 
you buy a hairnet?” he said, and 
slammed the bedroom door be- 
hind him. 

Fuoss stepped out of the Up 
chute into the office a few min- 
utes before nine. He went to his 
desk and sat down, staring at the 
In basket which the file clerks had 
already filled with folders and 
correspondence. He ran a thumb 
along the edge of a batch of files. 

Blue Tabs. McMillin. First 
Brownfield’s stuff and now Mc- 
Millin’s, too. There wasn’t any- 
thing wrong with Mac’s wife. Why 
should he be doing part of his 

He wiped his forearm over his 
eyes. He’d tried to explain this 
morning’s outburst to himself dur- 


ing the drive to the office. It 
couldn’t be the dream. He was 
tired. Work had been piling up on 
his desk during the past month, 
and he’d had to do overtime. 
Brownfield had been out lately, 
with his wife’s pregnancy develop- 
ing complications at term. That 
meant more work to be done. 
More reading, more dictation, 
more interviews. His nerves were 

He remembered some of the 
other jobs he’d worked at. Doing 
rewrites for the Times, for in- 
stance. He’d liked it, been good at 
it. He’d saved enough from that 
so the extra money he’d picked 
up free-lancing had paid for the 
destruction and replacement of 
the unmatured remainder of Lisa’s 
culture. At that time, the thought 
of being married to a true indi- 
vidual had seemed important. 

After the newspajaer business 
got a little tight, he’d tried his 
hand at managing a chain store, 
and when that petered out he’d 
done any number of other things, 
until he’d finally landed this in- 
surance claim adjusting job. Come 
to think of it, he’d held a lot of 

Guess I’m the restless type, he 

“. . . and thank you for your 
kind cooperation,” he dictated an 
hour later. “Rush that out, will 
you, Ruthie?” 

He looked up from the file and 

saw Brownfield come in. 

“Thank God!” he said. Brown- 
field was carrying a box of cigars 
and wearing the smile of a new 
father. "Look who’s here.” 

“Why, it’s Mr. Brownfield! He 
called this morning and said he 
might be in,” the stenographer 

But they figured I might as 
well do his work anyway, huh? 
Fuoss thought. “What’s the news 
on his wife?” he asked. 

“Oh, she’s fine. They had a 
baby boy.” Ruth smiled envi- 

Brownfield came across the of- 
fice to his desk. Fuoss got up. 
“Well, hell, Tom, congratulations!” 
he said, slapping Brownfield on 
the back. “Boy, huh? Bet he looks 
like' his mother. Most boys do, I 

“Little early to tell yet, Stac,” 
Brownfield said happily. “Might 
be, though. He’s got blue eyes like 

“Well, all babies have blue eyes 
at first,” Fuoss said. The thought 
struck him that young Brown- 
field probably resembled nothing 
so much as he did a slightly boiled 

“All babies do?” Brownfield 
said. “I didn’t know that. How 
come you did?” 

Meaning ‘ What does an android 
know about children,’ huh? You 
smug son of a bitch. “Don’t 
know. Must have read it some- 
where, I guess,” he said. 

“Guess so. Have a cigar?” 

“Thanks. Say, these are good.” 

"Nothing but the best for the 
first-born, I always say.” 

Fuoss hid a grimace. “What ’re 
you going to call him, Tom — 
Junior?” he asked unnecessarily. 

“What else? Have to carry on 
the family names, you know.” 

In a pig’s left nostril, I know! 

Brownfield looked over his desk. 
“Looks like all my work’s been 
done for me while I was gone. 
You do it?” 


“Well, boy, I owe you a drink, 
don’t I? What say we drop in 
some place after work? I sure ap- 
preciate you doing this for me.” 

Why not? 

“Sure. I’ll see you at five.” 

“Sure thing.” Brownfield walked 
away, the open box of cigars in 
his hand. 

Fuoss threw the cigar into the 
back of his desk drawer and 
picked up another file. . 

Carol had short, dusty-black 
hair. Her blue eyes were wide. 
They were accented by sweeping 
brows and outlined by coal-black 
lashes. Her nose was short, flat, 
turned up at the end. Her lips 
were small and thin. They twisted 
nervously whenever she forgot to 
control them. Her face was round, 
sun-tanned, and slightly flat. 

Fuoss waved at the waitress 
and silently pointed to the three 
empty glasses. The girl put the 



glasses on her tray and moved off. 

Brownfield shifted awkwardly 
in his chair. “I’ve got to go home, 
Stac,” he said petulantly. “It’s 
getting late. I’ve got to call the 
hospital and talk to my wife.’’ 

Fuoss looked at him from un- 
der his lowered eyebrows, his eyes 
a dark mud color. “You can call 
her from here.’’ 

“I’m hungry, too. I’ve got to go 
home and eat.” 

“You can order a sandwich 
here, you know.” Fuoss took a 
pack of cigarettes out of his shirt 
pocket and held it out to Carol. 

“Light it for me, will you?” 
she said. 

Fuoss grinned. He put the two 
cigarettes in his mouth until they 
lit, and handed one over. “Tommie 
boy, here, gave me a cigar today,” 
he said. “Good cigar. Too bad I 
hate cigars.” He turned to Brown- 
field, smiling. “Don’t get me 
wrong, Tommie. You’re a hell of a 
good joe. I just don’t like cigars.” 
He leaned across the table and 
laid his hand on Carol’s arm. 

“Tommie sure did me a big fa- 
vor today,” he said emphatically. 
“He bi ought me in here, didn’t 
he? Introduced me to one of the 
really nicest people I ever met. 
Even if I don’t like cigars. Was 
that Tommie’s fault? Good cigar. 
Did his best.” He laughed. “Sure 
did his best. Mr. Brownfield has 
fathered a son. Ever hear of a 
better best than that?” 

Carol shook her head. “Never 

did. That’s really something.” 

Brownfield pushed his chair 
back. “I’ve got to go.” 

Fuoss narrowed his eyes and 
stared at him. He looked at Carol 
with a sidewise swing of his eyes 
and then looked back at Brown- 
field. “All right. 'F I was you I’d 
be celebrating the blessed event, 
but I guess you know what you’re 
doing. Thanks for the drink. And 
thanks for introducing me to 
Carol. Goodbye.” 

Brownfield grinned uncomfort- 
ably and raised his hand awk- 
wardly. “I’ll see you.” He turned 
his awkward smile in Carol’s di- 
rection. “I’ll see you, too.” 

“Won’t wifey mind?” Carol 
answered, puffing on the ciga- 
rette. “It’s been fun and all that, 
but you’re a proud papa now.” 

Brownfield put his hand on the 
back of his chair and opened his 
mouth, but closed it again and 
then said something else instead. 
“Yeah. I guess so. I — I’ll see 
you.” He turned and walked out. 

Carol broke into a laugh. “ E'ver 
see an expression like that on any- 
body’s face before?” 

Fuoss guffawed. “Not once. 
Never.” The waitress had brought 
thVee fresh drinks, and he picked 
up Brownfield’s. “Brownie’s a 
good guy, though. Never thought 
a bird like him knew about a place 
like this. Damnedest thing.” 

“The place isn’t really much. 
It’s too quiet, usually. I like it to 



rest up in until the bigger places 

Fuoss looked around and nodded, 
"Yeah, come to think of it, you’re 
right. The place would be dead if 
I hadn’t run into you. I guess it’s 
the company that gives any place 
its atmosphere.” 

He finished Brownfield’s drink 
and started on his own. “ Damned- 
est thing, us just walking in here 
and finding you.” 

Carol smiled. “Oh, I’m usually 
in here. It’s awfully dull, usu- 

Fuoss nodded. “Come to think 
of it,” he said abruptly, “Brownie 
was right. It is time to eat. You 

Carol nodded, wrinkling her 
nose. “Uh-huh.” 

“Okay. Order something. You 
know the food in here. Order for 
both of us.” 

“Oh, the food stinks in this 
place. Tell you what . . .” Carol 
smiled, dimpling sweetly. “Why 
don’t we go up to my place? I’ll 
cook something up for us and we 
can go out someplace later. How’s 

Fuoss’s eyes glittered. “Sounds 
good,” he said, and waved to the 
waitress for their check. 

There was no point to going all 
the way back to the carport to 
pick up Fuoss’s Buick, so they 
took a cab to Carol’s apartment. 
Fuoss helped her out of the cab 
and held her coat while she un- 
locked the door. 



She opened the door and swayed 
against him. “Whew! I didn’t 
know I was that high,” she mur- 
mured. She laughed, a low chuck- 
ling laugh and leaned forward. 

“’S all right,” Fuoss said. “'S 
all right. We’ll be okay when we 
get some food down.” 

“Sure we will,” Carol said, and 
laughed again. “Mix yourself a 
drink while I go find the kitchen.” 

Fuoss was recording impres- 
sions on. his senses. There were a 
lot of them. They wheeled by; 
sight, hearing, smell, taste, feel, 
all reeling by. He had no means of 
slowing them down or cutting 
them off, so he simply recorded, 
letting them run into his mental 
tape recorder, not analyzing, not 
examining, just letting them spin, 
stopping once in a while to drive 
his fingernails into his forearm 
when the fog became too per- 

Slap! His head recoiled. Slap! 
Other direction. He was leaning 
against the flejctile bathroom wall, 
facing the mirror. He slapped him- 
self again. And again, trying to 
drive some of the fuzz out from 
around his senses. The air was 
tight, squeezing against him from 
all directions, compressing. 

There was just too much of it. 
Too much going on, going by. He 
opened his eyes and the spinning 
stopped. No, not quite. But it did 
slow down considerably. 

Carol’s arm was around his 

neck. “Hi,” she said, wrinkling 
her nose. 

“Hi.” He pouted a smile in re- 

“I don’t think.we’re going out 
after supper.” She giggled. 

“Why not?” 

“It’s two o’clock in the morn- 
ing and we haven’t had supp>er 

Fuoss looked down at a coffee 
table covered with bottles. Most 
of them had been sampled. “Well, 
let’s eat, then.” He was having 
real trouble focussing his eyes. 

Carol put her other arm around 
his neck. “In a minute, honey. 
Let’s have one more drink. We 
haven’t tried the Cherry Heering 
yet.” She nuzzled his ear. 

Fuoss stifled a belch. “All 

Just before morning he had the 
dream again. 

He thrashed out in the night, 
twisting the sheet around his legs 
and bringing a sleepy protest from 
Carol. He kicked, but the sheet 
held. He was soaking in sweat. 

He had no clear image of the 
woman. She remained disembod- 
ied. Discarnate, but woman in- 
carnate. He knew only that she 
was human, and this knowledge 
brought him a sense of triumph, 
of victory. He was victorious, 

She came from blackness, and it 
was into blackness that he went 
for her. 



He rolled and jerked on the bed. 
Tirne whinnied by like a silver 

The woman was gone, hidden 
in blackness. His feet moved spas- 
modically against the sheets. 

The blackness parted and the 
woman returned. There was with 
her — 

His subconscious recoiled. He 
cried out. 


The infant turned from his 
mother’s breast and stretched out 
his hands. “Father!” 

“Wake up, Stac! Goddamn it, 
wake up!” Carol pounded his 
shoulder. “Wake up, will you, for 
Christ’s sake! You’re bawling like 
a baby.” 

Fuoss opened his eyes and 
looked up into the darkness. He 
reached out for Woman. 

Fuoss stayed behind a pillar, 
out of sight of the hundreds of ar- 
riving commuters, until his car 
was driven down the ramp. Then 
he scrambled inside and drove out 
of the exit as rapidly as possible. 
He swung into the Uptown lane 
and relaxed for the first time since 
stepping out of the cab at the 

A dose of B-1 had calmed his 
stomach, but his head was still 
feverish. His hands had a tend- 
ency to shake. When he paid his 
toll at the bridge, he almost dropped 
the coin. He drove jerkily, tramp- 
ing down on the accelerator and 

letting up too fast on the brake. 

Despite this, there was a smile 
of satisfaction on his face. 

Lisa met him at the door. “Tal’s 
here,” she said. 

“The old family legal advisor, 
huh? Going to get a divorce before 
you even hear my side of the 
story?” Fuoss twisted his mouth. 

Lisa smiled coldly. “If you’re 
going to go tom-catting, I can’t 
stop you, but at least get the purr 
out of your voice when you come 
back. Tal called up early this 
morning — wanted to see you. 
When I told him you weren’t in, 
he came over to wait for you.” 

“Uh-huh. The office call?” 

“Yes. I had to tell them you 
were sick. I don’t think they be- 
lieved me.” 

Fuoss grinned sourly. “Not 
with Brownie running around tell- 
ing them what a bad boy I’ve 
been.” He shrugged. “Tal in the 
living room? I’ll go in and talk to 

He brushed his lips across Lisa’s 
cheek. “Fix me some breakfast, 
will you, honey?” 

Tal Cummins, like most an- 
droids, was the next thing to a 
chain smoker. He opened a gold 
case as Fuoss came in and threw 
him a cigarette without asking. 
“How are you, Stac?” 

Fuoss sat down opposite him. 
“Fair. What’s up?” 

Cummins waited until his cig- 
arette had a good light. His black 



hair had fcishionable grey strands 
in it. His face was lean and aristo- 
cratic. His manner matched them. 
He had bought the hair and face 
to replace the ordinary undis- 
tinguished android features, but 
the manner had taken a number 
of years to cultivate. Only with 
another android did he fail to rise, 
murmur a greeting, and offer his 
cigarette case with polite urban- 
ity. “How’s your job coming 
along?” he finally asked. 

“Hell of a question, after two 

Cummins tapped his cigarette 
and watched the ash drift into a 
tray. “Doing a lot of overtime 
lately, are you? ” 


“Getting paid for it?” 

“Supper money. Executives 
don’t draw overtime — you know 

Cummins snorted. “Ever hear 
of the Junior Executives Union? 
Don’t tell me — the answer’s no. 
It’s a part of the dead and glori- 
ous Prewar past. The companies 
beat it by putting everybody from 
file clerks on up on the private 
payroll. Bingo, they were ineligi- 
ble for unionization.” 

“And I’m that kind of an execu- 
tive, huh?” 

“You’re in good company.” 
Cummins let some' more ash fall. 
“How about the other fellows in 
your office? They do a lot of extra 

“Not much. I sort of take care 

of about everything around here.” 

“I’ll bet you do. How’s your 
production record? Handle more 
cases than anybody else in the of- 
fice, don’t you? Even without the 
extra work, I mean.” 

“Sure. It’s pretty easy work.” 

“Getting steady raises, are you? ” 

“Well — times are a little rough 
in the insurance game. They prom- 
ised me one pretty soon, though.” 
Fuoss ran a hand through his hair. 
“What’s all this getting at?” 

Cummins doused his cigarette. 
“Did it ever strike you that you 
were being put upon, old chum? 
Don’t you think it’s kind of funny 
that a guy with your ability has 
held so many jobs?” 

Fuoss grunted. “Maybe. I was 
thinking about it yesterday, as a 
matter of fact.” Tal Cummins is a 
hell of a nice guy, but I’d like him 
better if he didn’t talk in circles. 
He shifted his feet. 

Cummins smiled thinly. “I’ll 
get to the point in a minute.” 

“Mind reader? ” Fuoss growled. 

“Lawyer.” Cummins let him- 
self smile for a minute more, 
wasted a little time on a new cig- 
arette, then leaned forward. “Stac, 
I’ll bet you anything you’d care to 
risk that you’ll lose your job 
within the month.” 


“May I acquaint you with a 
little history?” 

“ If it’s got anything to do with 
me. But cut it short.” 

“History is never short, my 



boy.” Cummins kicked the end of 
his cigarette with his thumbnail. 
‘‘History is extremely compli- 
cated, and we — ” he gestured 
from Fuoss to himself, and in- 
cluded Lisa with a wave toward 
the kitchen, ‘‘are one of the prize 

‘‘You’ve heard of the war. You 
have also heard of the extreme 
devastation and depopulation. I’ve 
done more than that. I’ve gone 
through books that describe a 
complicated civilization from its 
most revealing angle — its legal 
structure. I’ve also studied the 
1960 census, and compared it with 
the emergency figures compiled in 
’68. Being an android, specializing 
in the cases covered by the Hu- 
manoids Act, I’ve also built up a 
better- than-average picture of what 
shape the humans were in when 
they finally dropped in their tracks 
in ’67.” 

The sophisticated mask fell 
away. ‘‘Things were rugged, Stac. 
Seventy-five per cent of the civi- 
lized population was dead. Their 
technology was either completely 
wrecked or useless, because some 
fragment which remained oper- 
ative depended on another part 
which hadn’t. The humans were 
headed for the most colossal dark 
age since the Western Roman 
Empire collapsed. 

‘‘We were the answer. They 
took their soldier androids, did an 
extensive revamping and improv- 

ing, and here we are. Or rather, 
there we were, because things are 
different now.” The faintest trace 
of bitterness found an unaccus- 
tomed home on the bland features. 

‘‘Anyway,” he went on, ‘‘what 
they needed in a hurry was a la- 
bor force. Not just a bunch of 
quasi-robots, but intelligent indi- 
viduals, or near-individuals, who 
could handle anything a human 
could. The result was not only 
android pick-and-shovelers, but 
android technicians, android sci- 
entists, and android teachers. 
Even — ” he smiled — ‘‘android 

‘‘They did a good job. For all 
practical purposes, androids are 
duplicates of humanity. The main 
difference, of course, lies in the 
fact that androids cannot repro- 
duce themselves by natural means. 
There, the humans knew they had 
a problem. If we were compara- 
tively unintelligent, it wouldn’t 
matter too much. But they gave 
us brains — and the potential for 
a nasty bundle of neuroses. They 
gave us android wives to take 
some of the sting off, but nobody’s 
ever figured out a way to give us a 
substitute for parenthood. Adop- 
tion, unfortunately, is not the 
answer for the genuine article.” 

Fuoss looked at Cummins through 
a screening cloud of cigarette 
smoke. The lawyer was a smart 
cookie. Was he smart enough to 
be hinting around? 

‘‘But that’s beside the point,” 



Cummins said. 

Fuoss relaxed. 

“ That problem is going to be 
solved as a by-product solution to 
a much larger problem,” the law- 
yer continued. “In a way, your 
working overtime is a symptom of 
that same problem.” 


“Look around you,” Cummins 
said simply. “Any traces of the 
war left? Any poverty, hardship, 
devastation? You don’t use matches 
on your cigarettes, you drive a 
two-hundred mph Buick with an 
automatic pilot, you never used 
an elevator in your life, and your 
alarm clock’s been on voice for the 
last ten years. You, friend, are 
living in the technology of the late 
Twentieth Century. The fact that 
it’s fifty years late is unimportant. 
Another thing — this civilization 
is truly world-wide. There are no 
‘ backward ’ areas — the day of 
the ignorant savage gaping before 
the white man’s magic is over.” 

“We did a good job,” Fuoss 

Cummins laughed, with no 
trace of humor. “Exactly. We 
worked ourselves right out of it.” 

“Now — wait a minute! You 
don’t mean they’re going to stop 
making androids.” 

“They have stopped.” 

“What! When? How come no- 
body knows about it?” 

“ Relax, Stac.” Cummins waved 
him back into his chair. “There’s 

nothing we can do about it. You’d 
be surprised how many people 
have tried.” He smiled inscrut- 
ably. “I’m one of them, as a mat- 
ter of fact. But there’s more to 
worry about than that.” 

“Such as?” 

“What’s happening to you — 
and me. Haven’t you figured it 
out yet? The human population’s 
back up to normal. Nobody needs 
androids any more. They don’t 
want to come right out and say so, 
and in many cases the humans 
themselves aren’t deliberate in 
their actions. It’s simply a ques- 
tion of an employer hiring humans 
rather than androids. After all, if 
you were a human employer, and 
two applicants, one human and 
the other android, showed up for 
the same job, which would you 

“So I’m being eased out of my 
job?” Fuoss searched his pockets 
for a cigarette. 

“Shows all the signs, doesn’t 
it? Looks to me like they’re trying 
to disgust you into resigning. 
They might also pick on some pre- 
text — like you being out all night 
on a bat.” 

“That was a celebration with 
Tom Brownfield! He was with 

“All right — we split up about 
eight! So what?” 

Cummins made another one of 
his soothing gestures. “Relax, boy. 
I’m not accusing you of selling 



anybody into slavery. I’m just say- 
ing your company might decide 
it was a beautiful opportunity. 
Insurance companies are pretty 
stuffy outfits, anyway, you know.” 

That was what Cummins said, 
but Fuoss could see the shrewd 
light in the lawyer’s eyes. He’d let 
a little too much slip about last 
night. Worst of all, he’d protested 
too much. Well, there was nothing 
he could do about it now. 

‘‘So there won’t be any more 
androids, huh?” Fuoss said. 

‘‘Correct. One of the obscurer 
subsections of the Humanoids Act 
covers the case. But why worry? 
One thing we androids have over 
the humans is a complete lack of 
interest in the succeeding genera- 

‘‘Don’t be so Goddamned smug 
about it!” 

Cummins raised his eyebrows. 
‘‘Did I touch a sore spot?” 

“ Never mind what you touched. 
You’ve been spreading a lot of 
stuff around here this morning. 
I’m not ready to believe all of it. 
I particularly don’t care about 
you prying into my married and 
personal life. Got me?” 

Cummins got up, the urbane 
barrister once more. ‘‘Well, it 
seems I share Cassandra’s popu- 
larity. Prophets without honor 
and all that. I’ll be going.” 

‘‘Good idea. I need some sleep.” 

‘‘Youdo. AndStac . . .’’Cum- 
mins paused on his way into the 
hall, ‘‘there’s a law clerk’s job 

open in my office when you need 

‘‘Go take a flying — ” 


Stac kept his eyes on Cummins 
until the lawyer had gone out of 
the door. Then he swung around 
and went into the kitchen. He 
stood just inside the door and 
looked at Lisa. His upper lip 

“Breakfast’s ready. Where’s 
Tal?” Lisa said. 

“Thanks. Tal’s gone.” 

“What’d he want?” 

Fuoss cut into a slice of ham. 
“Nothing much. Bunch of chat- 
ter, is all. Did he say anything to 
you about it?” 


Fuoss looked up. Lisa was look- 
ing at him quietly. 

“I was out with Brownie. His 
wife had a son and we were cele- 
brating. That’s all.” 

“All right, Stac.” Lisa smiled. 
“Did you have that dream again?” 

“Goddamn it!” Stac slammed 
his fist onto the tabletop. “God- 
damn it to hell!” 


Fuoss moved down the street. 
He stayed in the shadows and 
kept his footsteps light. He crossed 
the avenue and went into Carol’s 
apartment house. He went into 
the lobby and pushed Carol’s 
annunciator button. 

A note, printed in Carol ’s 



handwriting, full of sweepingly 
crossed T ’s and curlicued S ’s, was 
thrown on the screen beside the 

Hi, whoever — 

Sorry — nobody’s home. 

Don’t know when I’ll be 
back, but the lobby chairs 
are nice and cuddly if you 
want to wait. Or leave me 
a note. 

See You. 

Fuoss grimaced with satisfac- 
tion and turned the screen off. He 
went over to the chute, unlocked 
it, and rode to Carol’s floor. He 
went down the hall to her apart- 
ment and let himself in. 

Carol had left the lights on, as 
usual. He reached up to turn them 
off, then changed his mind. He 
went into the kitchen instead and 
took a can of beer. He removed 
the top and went into the bed- 
room, tilting his head back to let 
the beer slide down his throat. 

The bedroom was a lot neater 
than he had expected it to be. The 
bedspread was folded over a chair 
and one of the vanity drawers was 
open, but the usual collection of 
washed but not yet ironed under- 
things was missing from the top 
of the bureau. 

Fuoss put the beer can down on 
top of a table, went over to the 
closet and reached into a back 
corner. He pulled out his topcoat. 

He put his hand in the left side 
pocket, fumbled around, grunted, 
tried the other pocket. He couldn’t 

find anything in that one, either. 
He frowned and got to his hands 
and knees to search the closet 
floor. There was nothing there. 

He swung the closet door 
angrily. A negligee that had 
slipped from its hanger kept it 
from closing coinpletely. He 
pushed the negligee farther inside 
with his foot and slammed the 
door shut. He walked toward the 
bed, tangling his feet in the top- 
coat he had thrown to the floor. 
He kicked it up into reach and 
threw it on the bed. He moved 
over to the table, picked up his 
can of beer and drained it. He 
stood in front of the open bedroom 
window, bouncing the can in his 

He threw the can out and lay 
down on the bed. He propped his 
head up with two pillows so that 
he could watch the entrance to 
the apartment through the open 
bedroom door. 

The office boy was about six- 
teen. He had pimples and an 
elaborate coiffure that had to be 
rebuilt by frequent recourse to 
a men’s room washbasin. He 
liked to smirk. 

“They wanna see you in the 
V.P.’s office. Mister Fuoss,” he 


“ Right away. ” 


“There’s an awful lot of big 
shots in there.” 





“Whip out of here, punk. If 
I’m getting the ax, I can at least 
stop acting like a human fountain 
pen. Now get going, before I wipe 
my nose with you.” Fuoss sto^ 
up, and the boy backed out of the 

“So Cummins was right,” 
Fuoss muttered. He rummaged 
quickly through his desk, taking 
out his fountain pens and a few 
other items that belonged to him. 
He ran across Brownfield’s cigar, 
grinned, and put it in his breast 

He walked back between the 
rows of desks toward the First 
Vice President’s office. He had 
thought he’d be angry, or dis- 
appointed, perhaps, if Cummins’ 
prediction actually came true. 
Instead, he discovered that he 
was feeling considerable relief. 
When he walked into the office, 
there was a slight smile at the 
corners of his mouth. 

The office boy had been 
right. Aside from the division 
head, there was a complete rep- 
resentation of section supervisors. 
Brownfield sat in one corner. 

“Good morning, Mr. Crofton, 
Mr. Mantell. Good morning, 
John, Harry, George,” Fuoss 
said heartily. “Good morning. 
Brownie. ” 

Crofton, the V.P., frowned. 
“Good morning, Fuoss. Sit down.” 

Fuoss moved into the indicated 

chair, crossed his legs and sat 
back. “What’s up, W.C.?” One 
of the section heads snickered. 

“I’d regard this occasion in a 
more serious light if I were you, ” 
Crofton said heavily. 

Fuoss smiled. “It’s a question 
of relative importance, I im- 
agine,” he said. He leaned for- 
ward. “Look, Mr. Crofton, Let’s 
cut this short. You’re a busy man 
and I ’ve got a new job to look for, 
so suppose I just have Ruthie run 
up a letter of resignation and 
we’ll get this thing done right. 
Will any excuse do, or do you have 
some particular preference?” 

There was an uncomfortable 
rustling among the section heads, 
but Crofton took it without any 
special reaction. “No. Almost 
anything will do. Make it effective 
next Wednesday. I ’m sorry to see 
you go, Fuoss. On the other hand, 
I have no choice. You’ll acquaint 
Mr. Brownfield with the cases 
you’re handling currently.” He 
extended a hand smilingly. 

“Oh, I don’t think I’ll wait 
that long. Suppose I make it 
effective at five o’clock yester- 
day? And as for me acquainting 
Brownie with my current cases, 
that’s hardly necessary, since 
most of them were his originally, 
anyway. Well, so long.” He 
flipped a hand in salute and 
walked out. 

Brownfield caught up with him 
in the cloakroom. “Say, Stac, 
I’m sorry this happened,” he 



said, fumbling at Fuoss’s sleeve. 
"It’s just that when you didn’t 
show up yesterday, somebody re- 
membered that we went out 
together the night before and 
started asking questions.’’ 

“Sure, Brownie.’’ 

“I’m glad you ’re taking this so 
calmly, ’’ Brownfield said, his face 

“Sure. I ’ll see you around, huh, 
BroWnie?” He put his jacket on, 
picked up his briefcase, and took 
the hand Brownfield extended. 
“Oh, yeah . . .’’He reached into 
his breast pocket. “Have a cigar. 
Brownie. ’’ 

Fuoss walked jauntily down the 
sidewalk toward the bar where he 
had met Carol. He picked up a 
paper at the corner newsstand, 
intending to check a few ads for 
luck. The sun was shining and a 
cool breeze came off the harbor. 

He went into the bar and sat 
down. “Give me a gin and tonic, 
will you?’’ he said to the bar- 
tender and settled himself com- 
fortably on the stool. His hands 
began to tremble, and he broke 
out in a sweat. 

My God, what’m I going to do? 
I’ve got bills to pay, a wife to 
support. The rent’s due pretty 
soon, and the tax instalment. 
What I ’ve got in the bank won ’t 
carry me long. Where ’s it coming 

He leaned forward and wrappjed 
his fingers over the bar ’s molding. 


He began to tremble violently. 

“You all right, buddy?” the 
bartender asked, setting a shot 
glass and a glass of quinine water 
in front of him. 

“Fine. Just don’t mix that 
drink, and bring me another shot 
of gin.” He raised the shot glass 
to his mouth and sucked the gin 
out jerkily. 

Carol came in at abbut four. 
Fuoss waved to her from the 
booth he’d spent the day in. She 
smiled and went over. 


“Hiya. Real higher. Pull up a 
drink and sit down,” Fuoss said. 

Carol laughed. 

“Lost my job. Nobody loves 
androids any more. Rather have 
people. You rather have people?” 

Carol shook her head. “That’s 
too bad. I love androids.” She 
moved her hand over, on top of 
his. “To hell with people.” 

Fuoss grinned happily. “You ’re 
people. But you’re nice people. 
One of nicest people I know.” He 
threw back his head and laughed. 

“Say, you are packaged. You 
want to come over to my place 
and sleep it off?” 

“Yeah. Yeah, I need it. Thanks, 
Carol. Thanks a lot. You’re one 
of the best. No, really, you are.” 
He pushed his way out of the 
booth and stood up weakly. 

He had the dream again, that 

Lisa’s eyes were underscored 

by purple shadows. “Haven’t 
we gone through this before, re- 

F uoss shut the door and dropped 
into a chair. “All right. Who’d 
you tell this time?” 

Lisa’s eyes widened with her 
failure to understand him. 

Fuoss snorted. “Cut it out. I 
haven ’t known you for these 
years and not learned anything. 

Lisa kept her eyes from his. 

“I thought so. Was he here 
again? To see me, of course. ” 

“God, but you came back in a 
nasty mood!” Lisa clenched her 
fists, knuckles forward, woman- 

“Long as I came back. That’s 
all you’ve got to worry about. 
What’d you tell Cummins?” 

“What do you mean what’d I 
tell him? I told him the truth. ” 

“What’s your version of ‘the 

Lisa advanced toward him 
fiercely. “Stop it, Stac! I’m 
warning you — cut it out right 
now. I don’t particularly give a 
damn if you spent the night in a 
hotel with some call girl, but 
don’t come back in the morning 
and get nasty with me!” 

Fuoss jumped out of his chair. 
Lisa’s near-guess had come too 
close. He stood spraddle-legged in 
front of her, his arms shaking. 

“Listen, baby,” he said in a 
cold rage, “you’re dead right. 

What I did last night is my own 
business. ” He bounced his palm 
off his chest. “At most, it’s our 
business — yours and mine ; not 
Tal Cummins’s, not anybody 
else ’s. Yoii ’ve got a hell of a nerve 
standing there all housewifey, 
with that Goddamned egg-sucking 
grin on your face, trying to bull 
me. And when I catch you ly- 
ing — ” he was breathing in short 
gasps “you pull off the oldest 
defensive stunt in the world by 
flaring up at me!” 

His head was pounding. He 
pulled a cigarette out of his 
pocket and stuck it in his mouth. 
“Listen, Lisa-so-ashamed-of-be- 
ing-an-android, Lisa-who-diddled- 
her-name-so-it-sounds-human, get 
me, Lista, and get me good! If it 
wasn’t for me", you’d still be a 
sniveling shopgirl, arid if it wasn ’t 
for me breaking my neck over a 
typewriter for five years, there ’d 
be a carbon-copy of you on every 
block, and I ’ll bet my back teeth 
most of them wouldn’t be too 
careful how they earned their 
keep, either. Just remember I set 
you up to a lifetime of Wednesday 
Bridge Cliibs and Ladies Auxili- 
aries. Any time you decide you ’re 
going to get snotty with me, just 
run that over in your mind, and 
remember you’re no better than 
a glorified animal cracker. I 
bought you, kid, lock, stock, and 
physiomolded backside. Now, 
clear out- of my way and let me 
get some sleep. ” 



“You bastard!” Lisa reached 
out an arm and clawed his face. 

Fuoss ducked his head and 
pushed her away. He broke 
into short, high-pitched laughter. 
“Honey, that’s one thing I can't 
be!” He turned around and 
walked toward the bedroom. 

Lisa laughed too. “That’s right. 
That’s perfectly right. Just you 
remember that! You’re nothing 
but a Goddamned android your- 

Fuoss turned around. The blood 
had gone out of his, face. He 
moved up on Lisa. “Watch your- 
self, baby. Be very careful what 
you say to me. 

“ In fact, ” he said slowly, “your 
troubles with me are over. Tal 
Cummins has clear title to you, at 
least as far as I ’m concerned. ” 

Carol was glad to have him 
move in with her. They spent the 
week end in a drunken stupor and 
he had the dream again. 

The personnel manager shook 
his head. “I’m sorry, Mr. Fuoss. 
We’d like to have a man of your 
experience with our organization, 
but we simply don’t have any 
openings. Thank you for thinking 
of us, though, and we’ll keep your 
application on file. I ’ll be sure to 
let you know if anything comes 

“All right.” Fuoss smiled and 
shook the man’s hand. “Thanks, 
anyway. ” 


That night he and Carol got 
drunk together, and he had the 
dream again. 

The next day a different per- 
sonnel manager, for a company 
which would have paid five dollars 
a week less, was just as polite as 
the first. 

An envelope from Tal Cum- 
mins’ office had been delivered to 
him at Carol ’s apartment. 

“How’s it feel to be a corre- 
spondent, hon?” Fuoss asked her. 

Carol shrugged. 

They got drunk, Fuoss took 
some sleeping pills, and they 
went to bed. 

On the following morning, he 
went down to his bank and dis- 
covered that Lisa had drawn out 
exactly one-half of his account. 
He sold his car on the way down 
to the employment agency. 

Fuoss noticed an item in a news- 
paper on the employment agency 


In a letter released to- 
day by the office of the 
Secretary of Defense, Tal 
Cummins, prominent an- 
droid and well-known legal 
figure, urged the use of 
androids as crewmen in 
the projected attempt to 
put a manned rocket in 
an orbit around the E!arth. 

“Authorities agree,” 



Cummins said in his let- 
ter, “that there Is no sure 
way of knowing whether 
human beings can live in 
deep space under any con- 
ditions without actually 
making the attempt. I 
submit that androids pro- 
vide an easy means of 
practical testing. More- 
over, for this and similcir 
projects, such as the pro- 
posed Moon rocket and 
the later expeditions to 
Mars and Venus, spiecial- 
ized androids could be 
manufactured to meet spe- 
dal conditions, if it should 
prove that a humanoid 
organism cannot, for some 
reason, survive. 

“Speaking for most an- 
droids, I can say that we 
would be glad to cooperate 
in any such program. Our 
satisfaction would lie in 
the knowledge that we had 
been of help in the greatest 
human undertaking since 
the dawn of civilization.” 

The office of the Secre- 
tary of Defense declined 
any official comment on 
the letter, but informed 
sources close to the Secre- 
tary admit that the pro- 
posal is being given serious 

Fuel’s face was half-way be- 
tween a scowl and a grin. “Half 
a loaf is better than none, eh, 
Cassandra?” he muttered. He 
re-read the story, which had 
drawn a two-column head on 

page two, and this time he 
scowled. He got up, found a nickel 
in his pocket and went to a pay 
phone in the corner. He dialed 
Cummins ’ number, talked his 
way past two secretaries, and was 
connected with the lawyer. 

“Hello, Stac! How are you?” 
Cummins’ voice and expression 
were as urbane as ever. 

“Okay. How’s Lisa?” 

“I — don’t know. I haven’t 
seen her.” The lawyer’s tone was 
an almost successfully concealed 
mixture of anger and disappoint- 

Fuoss bared his teeth. “ If I had 
time, I’d laugh like hell.” He 
would have, too. “I’ve been read- 
ing about you in the papers, Tal. ” 

“You mean Project Space- 

“Is that what they’re calling 
it? Wouldn’t Project Grab be 
more appropriate? ” 

“Just what do you mean by 
that?” Cummins was angry. 

“That was a mighty clever 
piece of work, boy. If I were 
human, I ’d fall for it myself. But 
I’m not, so I don’t go for it.” 
Fuoss chuckled. “Not that I give 
a damn. In fact, I think it’s kind 
of a good joke on the humans. 
Boy oh boy, are they in for a shock 
when your satellite station an- 
droids ‘ prove ’ that humans can ’t 
survive the conditions. But that 
shock’s not going to be anything, 
is it? Not compared to the one 
they ’ll get when they wake up to 



the fact that space belongs to the 
androids, and they had better be 
nice or they’ll find themselves 
living on a second asteroid belt. 
1 have to hand it to you, Cum- 

“All right, Stac. I won’t try 
to kid you. That’s exactly what 
I’m doing. Can you blame me? 
You, of all people. How many 
favors have the humans done 
you? They’ve fired you out of 
every job you ever held, and 
they’re making it impossible for 
you to^et another one. Tit for 
tat, Stac. They don ’t want us any 
more. All right — we’ll give them 
Earth. But we’ll take the rest of 
the universe for ourselves.” 

Fuoss shook his head. “Uh-uh. 
It might even happen. I hope so. 
But one thing stinks about this 
project, and that’s you. You told 
me once that androids had no 
interest in their succeeding gener- 
ation, remember? You were 
wrong. Whenever 1 see a young 
kid android, I try to do him all the 
favors I can. But £is far as you’re 
concerned, you were right. You 
look at life as a sort of Out-of-the- 
culture-dish, live a while, Into- 
the-recovery-vat process. As far 
as you’re concerned, android his- 
tory began on your Awareness 
Day, and will end with your 
death. So there’s something in 
this for you, Cummins. There are 
mighty few drives left to an 
android. You ’ve got the main one: 
power. Well, spin your little web. 

Dream your little dream. I hope 
you get away with it. Not because 
I like you. Because I hate humans 
more. ” 

He laughed. “Just thought I’d 
let you know how I feel. So long, 
pal.” He cut the connection and 
watched the lawyer ’s face dissolve 
on the screen. 

That day he got a job, but he 
was carrying a bottle around with 
him by then, so he was paid off at 
three o’clock. 

Carol wasn’t there when he 
reached home, so he got drunk by 
himself. And that night he had the 
dream again. 

One of the interviewers at the 
employment agency looked him 
right in the eye and said, in an 
impatient tone of voice, “Let’s 
face it, Fuoss. You’re not going 
to get anywhere with trying for 
white-collar work. Not anymore. 
There’s no point in getting emo- 
tional about it; it’s a plain fact. 
It’s the way things are today, and 
you ’ve got to accept it. Why 
don ’t you try something like 
construction work? Your pay’ll 
be a lot bigger than you’ll ever 
get in an office. ” 

Fuoss did a mental run-down 
on his bank balance. “All right.” 

But the union just couldn’t 
provide jobs for all of its present 
members, much less take in a new 

Tal Cummins had a guest ap- 
pearance on a TV program, and 



spoke at some length about Pro- 
ject Spaceward. By the time he 
got to the end of it, Fuoss had 
gotten tired of waiting for Carol 
and gone to bed. He had the 
dream again. 

Carol woke him up on Saturday 
morning and made breakfast. 

After breakfast they sat down 
on the couch and smoked. 

“Where were you these last 
two nights,” Fuoss asked. 



Carol turned her head and 
faced him. “Look, Stac, you’re 
a nice guy. I like you. But liking 
you hasn’t got much to do with 
it. You’re living here — that’s 
O.K., so far, but you haven’t got 
any strings on me. ” 

Fuoss shrugged. “Okay — if 
that’s how it is. ” 

They spent a pretty miserable 
week end. 

Fuoss now took a job with a 
landscaping contractor out on 
Long Island. It paid a dollar and 
a half an hour, but it involved 
digging holes through fill that was 
well interlarded with brick halves, 
pieces of BX cable, folded lengths 
of thick tar paper, gravel and 
cinder block. His muscles weren ’t 
used to the job, but the worst 
strain was on his wrists, which 
took the shock of pick-swings 
that ended suddenly in some 
unseen obstacle. Nevertheless, he 
managed to last out the day with- 

out blistering his palms too badly. 

When he rode back to the 
apartment that night, he felt 
better than he had in days. 

Carol was home. He came in 
the door and she looked up. 
“Christ!” She stared at his 
clothes. “What’ve you been do- 
ing? Digging ditches? ” 

“That’s right — just about, 
anyway. Digging holes for trees. 
You get your hands dirty, but 
you make money. Twelve bucks 
today. ” He grinned. He was feel- 
ing good. 

Carol nodded. “Uh-huh.Twelve 
bucks. Go take a shower, will 

When he came out, she was 
waiting for him. She was walking 
around in haphazard circles, 
smoking a cigarette. “Sit down, 
will you, Stac?” 

“Sure. What’s cooking?” 

“Look — today’s the first of 
the month. Rent’s due. You 
want to pay half of it?” 

He frowned. “Christ, I’d like 
to, Carol. You know that. But 
I can ’t. I haven ’t got any money. 
I can give it to you in about two 
weeks. ” 

“Yeah . , . maybe. And could 
you raise fifty-five more two 
weeks after that?” 

“Hell, Carol, sure. Twelve 
bucks a day comes out to sixty a 
week. ” 

“Before taxes, social security, 
unemployment insurance, trans- 
portation, lunches and cigarettes 



it does, yeah. Add laundry bills to 
that, too. What’s more, this is 
August now. How much longer do 
you think landscaping’s going to 
be open?” 

“All right — so it’s not the 
best job in the world!” 

“I didn’t say that. You should 
be able to make out pretty well 
with it, and they’ll probably find 
you a winter job. Or else you can 
hole up on your unemployment 
checks. But not here, Stac. Not 
the way you’re living.” She 
flipped the cigarette into the sink. 

"What ’re you trying to say?” 

“I’m not trying — I’m saying. 
It’s a matter of simple econom- 
ics.” She sat down beside him 
and put her hand on his knee. 
“Look, honey, I’ve been paying 
for your food the last two weeks. 
Some of the liquor we ’ve mopped 
up you ’ve bought, but most of it 
was here when you came. Up to 
now it hasn ’t cost you a dime to 
live here — or it wouldn’t have, 
if you weren’t a lush.” 

“Goddamn it! I am not a lush! 
I come home, we have a couple of 
drinks after supper, and then we 
start necking. Next thing we 
know, we’re pie-eyed. But that 
doesn’t make me a lush!” He 
realized that there were bigger 
things to argue over, but for some 
reason he kept pressing this 
point, as if concentrating on it 
would make the other problems 

“Okay, honey.” Carol stroked 

his hair. “Okay.” She smiled. 
“You know, a doctor I knew once 
said that alcohol was an extreme 
form of sublimation. But I can’t 
imagine what you would be subli- 
mating. ” She grinned, and Fuoss 
grinned with her. 

“Okay. I made a funny, ” Carol 
said. “That doesn’t change any- 
thing. I can ’t afford to keep you, 
and you can’t afford to stay. It’s 
tough, but it’s true. ” Impulsively, 
she put her arms around his neck. 
“Look, you ought to get yourself 
a room somewhere near where you 
work. It’ll work out fine that 
way. You can still come and see 

Fuoss sat stiffly, looking at the 
opposite wall over her shoulder. 
“Sure. Sure, Carol. I understand. 
It’ll work out pretty well.” He 
tightened his arms around her. 
“I’ll find a good job for the 
Winter, and then maybe we can 
really set up something in style.” 

“I’d like that, Stac,” she 
murmured in his ear. She drew 
her head back and kissed him. 
“I like you, Stac. You know I do. 
It just doesn’t work out right 
now. You know that. ” 


He moved to a furnished room 
in New Hyde Park, and rode the 
bus a mile up to work for ten 
days. He wrote Carol a few letters, 
and got a few answers. He read 
the paper one day and saw that 
Operation Spaceward had offici- 



ally begun. Stock in Androids 
Incorporated, DuPont, and Gen- 
eral Aniline went up again. Tal 
Cummins was getting his, but the 
androids — we ’re getting ours, too. 

On Friday, the fourteenth of 
August and the thirteenth day of 
his last two weeks, he went out to 
Babylon with his crew. 

They dug a hole two yards deep 
and about five across for an oak 
the owner wanted moved into it. 
They cut a ramp into one side of 
the hole, and craned the tree over 
to the top of the ramp. A bunch of 
overhead wires that couldn’t be 
cut or moved kept them from 
dropping the tree in, so they 
mounted it upright on a skid, 
lashed the tree firmly, and guyed 
it to the front bumper of a truck 
with a couple of lengths of Manila. 

Stac was driving the truck. As 
the rest of the crew manhandled 
the tree over the lip of the ramp, 
he was supposed to lower it slowly, 
keeping the truck in double-low 
and judging the strain on the 

It didn’t work out that way. 
The Manila snapped, lashed a 
couple of boys across the face, and 
fouled the skid. The tree tipped 
forward, picked up momentum, 
and toppled over, catching a man 
under the branches. 

Stac got out of the truck and 
the Boss came over to him. 

“You stupid son-of-a-bitch ! ’ ’ 
the Boss said. “You stupid an- 
droid son-of-a-bitch ! I should have 

had more sense than to hire a 

It was the first time Stac had 
heard the word, but it was self- 
explanatory. It described in a 
simple term the substances from 
which they claimed androids were 

Fuoss reached out and gathered 
the ’Boss ’s shirt up in his hands. 
“I ought to hit you,” he said. “I 
ought to rub your face on a 
macadam road and drive a truck 
over your crotch. ” 

The Boss turned pale. He saw 
the look on Fuoss ’s face. “You’re 
nuts!” he screamed. 

Fuoss laughed and pushed him 
away. “Yeah.” 

He had done it so many times 
that the blanket’s constriction 
was nothing new. His arms flailed 
and his pillow fell to the floor, 
knocking the bottle over. 


Stac — little Stac, his firstborn. 
Have a cigar. Brownie. Have a 
cigar, you smug bastard. Good 
cigar. Brownie — nothing ’s too 
good for the firstborn. Have a fat 

Woman. The woman raised her 

Carol. Carol! 

The Boss said Get the hell 
away from her, you second-hand 
son of a dog and a orang utang. 

Carol said You second-hand 
son of a hyena and a vulture. 

Little Stac said You second- 



hand son of a son of a son of a 
sonofasonofasonofa . . . 

He went out in the morning and 
bought another bottle. He went 
into the candy store next door for 
a pack of cigarettes, and then he 
went back to the liquor store and 
bought another bottle to make 


He looked at his watch. 2:30. 
Sunday morning, but still Satur- 
day night, by almost anybody’s 
definition. He moved his feet 
impatiently on the bed. 

The door to the apartment 
opened, and Carol came in. There 
was a man with her. 

“Go home. Brownie. Go home 
to your wife and your firstborn 

“God! What’s keeping him on 
his feet?” 

“Never mind what’s keeping 
me on my feet. Brownie. Go 
home. ” 

Brownfield left. “I’ll call the 
police for you, Carol. ” 

“Are you crazy? He’s all right 
— he’s just packaged. I’ve seen 
him like this before. You know — 
he ’s right. Go home to your wife. 
I ’ll take care of him. ” 

“Well, all right.” 

“You bet it’s all right. Now 
beat it.”. Fuoss locked the door 
behind him, turned around and 
leaned against it. 

“Hi, Carol.” 

She smiled hesitantly. “Hi, 

“Marry me, Carol? ” 

“Not right now, Stac. It’s kind 
of late. Why don’t you sack out 
and we can talk about it in the 

“•Uh-uh. This morning business 
doesn’t go. You gonna marry 

“Lxx)k, Stac, fun’s fun, and 
drinking’s drinking, but there’s 
a limit. 1 ’m not sure I even want 
you to sleep here. There ’s a hotel 
down the block. Stay there and 
I ’ll see you in the morning. ” 

“Can’t stay at any hotel. 
Haven’t got any more money. I 
had some in my topcoat pocket, 
but you took it. ” 

“I didn’t take it. There wasn’t 
any there. You took every cent 
you had to the Island with you.” 

“You took it all right. But 
that’s okay. I ’ll forgive you. Just 
marry me. ” 

Carol moved atound to the 
other side of an easy chair. “What 
are you talking about? Me, marry 
an android?” 

“Listen, Carol. You’ve got to 
do it. Nobody’s ever tried it 
before. Maybe there’s a chance.” 

“A chance for what?” 

Fuoss spread his arms plead- 
ingly. “ For Stac — for little Stac. 
We ’ve got to try it, Carol. Please. 
Marry me, Lisa, please. ” 

“My name isn’t Lisa! You’re 
crazy, you ’re raving nuts. Get the 



hell out of here ! ” She picked up a 
bookend. “You’re insane!” 

Fuoss picked up the Scotch 
bottle from the table beside the 
door and broke the end off over 
the table’s corner. He laughed. 

Tal Cummins came briskly 
down the corridor between the 
cells. He was sweating, and his 
hair was not combed. 

“There he is. You want to go" in 
there?” The turnkey had stopped 
at Fuoss ’s cell. 

“ No, thanks. ” Cummins leaned 
(Continued trom page 81 * 

looked around him, seeming to 
consider. Then his attention fixed 
itself on the Bank of England. He 
strode forward in a forceful man- 
ner and came to a stop facing the 
Bank, looked up. His lips moved. 

The ground shook slightly un- 
derfoot. Three windows fell out 
of one of the Bank’s upper storeys. 
One statue, two urns, and a piece 
of balustrading swayed and top- 
pled. Several people screamed. 

Mr. Watts squared his shoul- 
ders and took a deep breath. 

“Good heavens! He’s — ” be- 
gan Mr. Forkett, but the rest was 
lost as he sped from Henry’s side. 

“I — ” announced Mr. Watts, 
at the top of his voice. 

“DON’T—” he went on, to 
the accompaniment of an ominous 

forward and looked at Fuoss. 

Fuoss looked up. 

“You realize what you’ve 
done?” Cummins was suddenly 
shouting, waving the full-color 
newspaper in his hand. “You’re 
all over the papers. The public’s 
going crazy for your blood. You 
realize what you’ve done to the 
whole android re-establishment 

Fuoss got up and put his face 
close to Cummins. He looked into 
the lawyer’s eyes. His hands 
wrapped around the bars. 

“Is she dead?” he asked hope- 
fully. He turned from the lawyer 
and did not look at him again. 

trembling of the ground. 

“ BE — ” but at that moment a 
strong push between his shoulder- 
blades thrust him full in the path 
of a hurtling bus. 

There was a shriek of brakes 
applied too late. 

“That’s ’im! I sore ’im do it!” 
screamed a woman, pointing at 
Mr. Forkett. 

Henry caught up with him just 
as a policeman came running. 

Mr. Forkett was regarding the 
facade of the Bank with pride. 

“No telling what might have 
happened. A menace to society, 
that young man,” he said. “They 
ought to give me a medal, but 
I’m afraid they’re more likely to 
hang me. After all, tradition must 
be observed.” 


Illustrated by LEO SUMMERS 

When this famous scientist 
looked up from his bed and saw 
himself walking out the door, 
he knew why man must never 
make a trip to Mars! 

Ur. Wesley Rahra stirred restless- 
ly in the semi-dark of his bedroom. 

He shivered, but it was not entirely 
from the early March chill. He had 
just had a vividly terrifying dream. 

He struggled desperately on that 
vague borderline between con- 
sciousness and sleep. A scientific 
part of his mind told him that 
this was no dream. Something lurk- 
ed at the far end of the room, 
something that filled him with such 
terror that he could not cry out! 

Copyri^t 1950 by ZIFF-DAVIS PUB. CO. 



With a last prodigious effort he 
was wide awake. 

Panic flooded him like a cold 
wave from the sea . . . and then 
he knew. . . . 

He must get back to his body! 

Through the dim dawn-light he 
saw his own body standing over 
by the door. It faced him. It smiled 
at him. There could be no mistaking 
that tall sliaht hqure dressed in 
his own clothes, the steel-gray eyes, 
the square face and pointed golden 

Dr. Rahm saw his body turn 
away. Awkwardly, it raised a hand 
to open the door. It looked down 
at the two arms with a most peculiar 
expression, and then walked out 
of the room with deliberate, ungain- 
ly steps. 

Dr. Wesley Rahm, in his bed, 
tried to cry out. He couldn’t. The 
voice rose high and emerged as 
a peculiar whistling wheeze. That 
frightened him, and he did not 
try it again. 

He watched his body totter across 



the hallway, clutch at the railing 
and disappear down the 
stairs. . . . 

This is not me, the thought rose 
above his panic. At least, it cannot 
be the physical me! His scientific 
interest returned. Reaching to toss 
the coverlet aside, he saw a sleek, 
slate-black appendage, an utterly 
outlandish tentacle! He moved 
clumsily from the bed. He stood up 
on stumpy elephantine legs. His 
body was twice as large as any 
man’s, and it possessed nine of the 
appendages in varying lengths. 

He made his way awkwardly 
to a mirror and steeled himself 
against the sight. The head was 
a triangular blob firinged with wav- 
ing filaments whose use he could 
not determine. Two sight organs 
were protruding and bulbous. In 
place of nose and mouth he saw 
a circular set of tiny, gill-like slits. 
He waved the tentacles helplessly. 
Someone or something has stolen 
my body! But why, why? And why 
my body, instead of my mind? 

Dr. Rahm put his mind to the 
problem. He felt sure that this 
must concern his recent ex- 
periments with the interplanet 
rocket fuel! Twice already the 
Government had tried to land 
rockets on the moon, with disastrous 
results. Dr. Rahm had worked for 
months on an entirely new type 
of fuel, and felt that he was very 
near the goal. No one except himself 
and Dr. Lawton, his assistant, knew 
the true natmre of the work being 
conducted in his laboratories outside 
of town. But now, with his own 
body wandering somewhere under 
the spell of an alien intellect. . . . 

Whoever or whatever it is, it 
cannot get very far. I must notify 
the authorities! 

There came a light step in the 
haU, and before he could move, 
his elderly housekeeper pushed into 
the room with his breakfast tray. 

‘Tine morning. Doctor!” Without 
looking in his direction she went 
about arranging his breakfast on 
the little table. Dr. Rahm felt his 
alien body stiffen. He tried to move 
stealthily toward the bathroom. But 
he wasn’t accustomed to so many 
limbs, and they made a sound 
against the wall. 

Mrs. Stringer turned. She saw 
him. The coffee-pot clattered to 
the floor. Her eyes became distended 
vertices of horror and she whimpered 
once, like a little dog that is hurt. 
Then her bony legs carried her 
fi:om the room, and shriek after 
shriek accompanied her flight down 
the hall. 

The police came with amazing 
speed. Dr. Rahm well realized his 
danger, knew that they might kill 
him in their idiotic excitement. 
But the numerous appendages 
hampered him, especially on the 
stairway. The police met him on 
the front lawn. 

“Good lord,” Sergeant Mulhany 
whispered, falling back a step. “She 
wasn’t lying! There it is! Look 
at that thing.” 

One of the policemen drew his 
gun, but Mulhany stopped him just 
in time. “Don’t kill it, you fool, 
or we may never learn what 
happened! I think this thing’s in- 
telligent. What have you done with 
Dr. Rahm!” he cried, staying weU 
away from the alien hulk. 



“I am Dr. Rahm!” the Doctor 
tried to say. “My body has been 
stolen by — ^by whatever mind 
belongs to this body!” But he could 
not even create semi-human words 
with the alien vocal cords, and 
only the weird whistling sounds 

With some repugnance four 
policemen laid hands on him, half 
dragged him out to the street and 
into the police car. 

“You fools!” Rahm tried to say. 
“Where are you taking me? Get 
in touch with Dr. Lawton, my 
assistant! He’ll know what to do!” 

But they couldn’t understand 
him, and the strange sounds made 
matters worse. “Be mighty careful, 
boys,” one of the policemen said. 
“I read something once in a weird 
magazine, about one of these things. 
By using its mental powers it could 
blast — ” 

“Adams, shut up,” Mulhany said. 

“What do you suppose the thing 
really is?” 

“Search me,” Mulhany scratched 
his head. “Maybe something Dr. 
Rahm created in his lab, and then it 
destroyed him. 1 read that in a story, 
too,” he added. 

They arrived at the station-house 
and thrust the tentacled monster 
into a barred room. They stood 
on the outside, surveying him 
helplessly, at a loss what to do 
next. Rahm surged against the door 
and raged at their stupidity. 

“Reporters?” someone suggested. 

“Yeah, why not. We’ll make the 
headlines! Phone the zoo, too.” 

“No, no!” Rahm tried to scream. 
“You clumsy fools, listen to me!” 
It was then, with the vehement 

thoughts, that he felt the fringe 
of filaments atop his head quiver. 
Suddenly it dawned on him. Those 
filaments might be a medium for 
telepathy ! 

Dr. Lawton! he thought intensely. 
Lawton, my assistant! Fine him! 
Bring him here! He felt his mind 
reel with the effort, but he continued 
to send the thought with all the 
power he could command. He felt 
that he wasn’t getting through; 
but suddenly one of the men frown- 
ed and clapped a big fist ■ into 
his palm. 

‘We should have thought of this 
before! We’d better get in touch 
with some of the scientists. The 
man who has been working with 
Dr. Rahm — ^what’s his name? 
Lawton, Dr. Lawton.” 

Exhausted from his effort. Dr. 
Rahm allowed the alien body to 
coUapse into a comer of the ceU. 

The newsmen and photographers 
came first. They came in droves. 
They took pictures and rushed away 
to make the noon editions. Dr. Rahm 
was big news any day of the week; 
now, with his disappearance and this 
monster from God knew where, all 
other news would be backed off the 
front page. 

“Here’s Dr. Lawton!” someone 
yelled. Lawton was a rotund, red- 
faced Uttle man who rushed ex- 
citedly down the haU. Rahm hurried 
to the front of the cell to greet his 

“Good lord!” cried Lawton when 
he sighted the thing. He gaped 
at the gesturing tentacles. ‘Who 
are you? In the name of biological 
science what are you? Where is 
Dr. Rahm?” 



Once again Rahm called upon all 
his mental power to get a message 
across. If anyone covild understand, 
or help him get his body, it was 
Dr. Lawton, But there was too 
much turmoil, and Lawton’s mind 
was not clear. He was in a frenzy 
of apprehension. His loyalty to Dr. 
Rahm mounted to almost pure 

LMWton don’t you understand? 
Make your mind receptive, man! 
Rahm flailed against the bars in 
a prodigious mental effort. Lawton 
blanched, and backed away across 
the hall. 

Rahm shuffled to the rear of 
the cell. This would never do! He 
must make them understand! At 
this very moment his space-fuel 
formula was probably in danger; 
he could think of no other reason 
for this fantastic interchange of 
identities. The laboratories were 
well guarded, and only as Dr. Rahm 
could the alien intellect gain access ! 

Then, into the tangle of onlookers 
rushed an excited official. “Dr. 
Lawton!” he shrieked to make 
himself heard. ‘Tve had a caU 
from Dr. Rahm’s home. He’s just 
returned there! Says he was out 
for an early morning walk, and 
he can’t imagine what all the ex 
citement is about. ” 

“Thank God,” cried Lwton. “Is 
he on his way here? He may have an 
explanation for all this.” 

Dr. Rahm, in his grotesque body, 
heard. He remained quiet at the 
rear of the cell. It was with a 
strange mixture of feelings that 
he awaited his own body’s coming 
to view him ! 

They arrived at last. A group 

of officials and clamoring reporters. 
Among them was the tall figure 
of Dr. Rahm, but it did not hurry; 
it stiU had the awkward, unfamiliar 

The figure paid no heed to the 
barrage of questions. Approaching 
the ceU, he hesitated and looked 
down at his two hands as though 
they were hopelessly inadequate 
as though he expected to find 
more — nine, perhaps. 

“Dr. Rahm, you seem upset 
Lawton greeted him. “Are you ill? 

Dr. Rahm s body shook its head. 
Then it was opposite the cell. It 
turned slowly. The intellect within 
Dr. Rahm's body, and Dr. Rahm’s 
intellect within the alien body, faced 
each other there in utter silence. 

For Half a minute they surveyed 
each other. The atmosphere was 
tense. Then the creature within 
the cell waved his appendages and 
whistled out; 

“Who in heavens name are you?” 

He was sure the other being 

For a moment the body of Dr. 
Rahm remained unmoving, unsmil 
ing. Then it turned, and the two 
hands made a sweeping gesture 
to indicate that all the others must 
leave. They left slowly, mumbling 
little protests. AU except Lawton. 
Lawton stayed as though it were 
expected of him. Dr. Rahm’s face 
frowned darkly. “Go,” the word 
rumbled out. 

“Don’t go!” Dr. Rahm within the 
ceU whistled shrUly. “Don’t listen 
to -him, Lawton! This is the real 

But Lawton left with the others, 
his brow knit in puzzlement. 


Alone, the two faced each other. 
Apparently a tenuous thread still 
linked the two minds, for Rahm 
felt the alien’s thoughts impinging 

You ask who I am. I am known 
as Aiiko, and I have come a long 
way to accomplish a purpose! 

Dr. Rahm felt a rising anger. 
I must have my body back! If 
you harm it — 

Until my mission is carried out 
I must keep control of your body. 
Be assured, I will do all within 
my power to see that no harm 
comes to it. 

Rahm sensed the p>ower of this 
alien intellect. The fact that Aiiko 
was telepathing through the un 
familiar medium of a human brain 
proved it. Rahm meditated a mo- 
ment, then replied shrewdly, I admit 
your superiority. I will offer no 
resistance to your will, but naturally 
I am curious. I am accounted one 
of Earth’s greatest scientists. In 
deference to my standing I feel 
that explanations are due to me. 

The answer came stark and clear. 
I know. Dr. Rahm, who you are. 
What is it you wish to know? 

First: where did you come from? 

I journeyed here in a spaceship 
of my own construction, from your 
sister planet — that which you call 

Rahm’s mind leaped. He felt that 
he must proceed carefiilly now. 
How were you able to assume control 
of my body? he projected the thought. 

That is not important. The 
unguarded mind offers easy access. 
But your will-power was stronger 
than I suspected, and you unwitting- 
ly bridged the gap into my body. 


That was unfortunate. The transfer 
back again will be more difficult. 

Rahm felt a wave of repugnance 
at the alien flesh he wore. More 
than that, he was aghast at the 
cold dispassionate attitude of the 
Martian intellect. This inhuman 
horror had come to Earth for some 
diabolic purpose! He must learn 
what it was! 

There came a wave of pure in- 
tellectual amusement from Aiiko’s 
mind. I regret to tell you this. 
Dr. Rahm. You are too close to 
the secret of inter-planet travel. The 
first space step after the moon would 
be Mars . . . and this must not 
happen. I am here to see that 
it does not! 

Rahm stood there numbed, 
watching his own body smile at 
him. Now he knew that his initial 
surmise was correct. You would 
destroy my formulae? he flashed. 
You claim to be a scientist! Those 
are the products of my life’s work! 
I could not replace them for years ! 

Aiiko’s thought came cold. 
Earthians must not reach Mars. 
Not yet! But I am wasting time 
here ... I came only to see what 
these clumsy fools would do with 
my body. I see now that it will 
be safe for a while. He turned 
away, then sent one parting mental 
shot. There will be another meeting 
soon. If you wish your body back. 
Dr. Rahm, see that MINE is 

Rahm’s alien body quivered with 
rage and the nine appendages 
clutched at the cell bars, but in 

He must think logically! Analytic- 
ally! Already Aiiko was on his way 


to the laboratories, and certainly 
the guards would let him through. 
No doubt there was some vastly 
terrifying reason for the Martians 
not wanting Earthmen to achieve 
space travel! Perhaps the Martians 
themselves are preparing to descend 
ujwn Earth. The thought horrified 
him. This might be the first move 
in an invasion by red planet mind- 
stealing armies. 

‘Why have you made Dr. Rahm 
act so strangely!” The soft voice 
startled him, and then he knew it 
wasn’t a voice, but a mental current 
that bordered upon terror. He lifted 
his protuberant eyes and saw Lawton 
standing there. He was alone. . . . 

Lawton! There might still be a 
chance. Quickly his Martian eyes 
scanned the floor, and in one comer 
he spied some chunks of plaster 
fallen from the ceiling. He seized 
one in the double feeler at the 
end of an appendage. If only he’d 
thought of this before! Slowly and 
shakily, he began to trace letters 
on the wall. He had Lawton’s at- 
tention now. 

‘1,” he wrote first, followed by 
“A-M.” Then in a flurry of 
impatience; “D-R-R-A-H-M.” 

Lawton’s face paled. “Dr. Rahm! 

Rahm continued. “MUST GET 

Lawton’s eyes bluged in his pale 
round face. He wet his Ups nervous- 
ly, stni unable to believe. “I must 
be sure,” he muttered, whUe Rahm 
lashed the tentacles furiously. 
“Write more! What’s — uh — my 
wife’s first name. And the number 
of our last experiment!” 

Quivering with impatience, Rahm 
wrote both the answers. “HELENE. 
X-293. HURRY!” 

That was enough for Lawton. 
He turned and sped down the hall. 
He was back a minute later with 
the ceU keys, but as he fumbled 
for the right key the jailer came 
thundering after him. 

“Here, you lunatic, what are you 
doing? You can’t let that thing 
out of there! Dr. Rahm told us 
to keep it safe!” 

Lawton turned. Eyes blazed in his 
flushed face. Without warning his 
right fist lashed out and caught 
the jailer’s chin. The man crumpled 
against the opposite wall. 

Nice work, Lawton! Rahm 
telepathed vigorously as he shambl- 
ed from the ceU. 

“Come on. Doc, my car’s out 
in front. I don’t know what this 
is all about, but I’m with you!” 
Lawton paused only to lift the 
gun from the jailers holster, and 
then they were hurrying down the 
corridor. Rahm found a use for 
his tentacles at last. He slapped 
them against the floor and they 
sped him along amazingly. 

In the outer lobby a startled 
policeman tried to stop them, but 
Dr. Rahm was beginning to 
coordinate these alien muscles now! 
He whipped the longest tentacle 
around the man’s ankles and jerked 
him to the floor. Lawton waved 
the gun and the others fell back. 
Then he and Lawton were outside, 
tumbling into the latter’s car. They 
roared away from the curb. 

More than ever now Rahm felt 
a need to communicate with Lawton, 



tell him all that had happened. 
But there wasn’t time. That Martian 
intellect housing his body must 
have reached the laboratory by now! 
Rahm felt his body quiver with 
rage and impatience. He was 
determined to destroy his own Earth 
body, if need be to stop Aiiko. 

The laboratory was a brick 
farmhouse some five miles out of 
town. Rahm crouched low on the 
back seat as they approached the 
high fence surrounding the pro- 

“Has Dr. Rahm arrived?” he 
heard Lawton ask the guard as 
the main gate swung oi>en. 

“Yes, sir; not ten minutes ago. 
Has something happened to his 
car? He came in a cab this morn- 

Ten minutes! Perhaps they were 
not too late. Rahm tumbled from 
the car as it stopped in front of 
the house. One tentacle closed about 
the gun where Lawton had placed 
it on the seat. He whistled 
something wamingly and gestured 
for Lawton to remain where he 

Holding the gun aloft, Rahm en- 
tered the house and hurried toward 
the lab where his precious plans 
were kept. Those were all-important! 
The data was along unprecedented 
lines. He stood outside the door, 
listening . . . for the merest instant, 
and then he pushed his way in. His 
gaze took in the fitter of implements 
and papers scattered about the room 
just as Aiiko, the Martian, whirled 
the Earth body around to face 
him . . . 

It was eerie, confronting his own 

body which he might as a last 
resort have to kiU. Perhaps Aiiko 
was thinking the same thing; the 
human face had paled and now 
it tried to smile, but the result 
was a grimace. 

Rahm glanced at the drawer of 
his private desk which had been 
forced open. He surged forward, 
the filaments atop his head vibrated 
angrily. Give me those papers! 

Aiiko glanced at the sheaf of 
pap>ers in his hands. I have been 
studying your equations. It is close, 
very close — 

Rahm didn’t waste time. He pro- 
pelled himself forward. The tentacle 
holding the revolver lashed in a 
vicious arc toward the Earth head. 
Aiiko leaped aside as a thought 
flashed angrily. You have coordinat- 
ed the use of my limbs! So have I 
learned yours. A fist shot straight 
firom the shoulder and found its 
mark where the triangular Martian 
head joined the bulbous body. Dr. 
Rahm felt excrutiating pain along 
every nerve ... he could not move 
the tentacles . . . Aiiko, familiar 
with the body, had struck a paralyz- 
ing center! The tentacle holding the 
gun went limp, the weapon clattered 
to the floor. 

Aiiko bent down and appropriated 
it. So, Dr. Rahm, stand where you 
are! You blundering fool! Why did 
you have to interfere? I might have 
explained to you later ... at least 
I wanted to spare you watching this! 

He placed the sheaf of papers 
in a metal tray, then examined 
a row of bottles. Gingerly he lifted 
one of them. Acid! Through a 
numbing horror Dr. Rahm realized 



his intention. Aiiko’s mission would 
be accomplished. He would retmm 
to Mars with the news that Earth 
was years away from space travel. 
What would happen then? Perhaps 
a Martian invasion. Anything. 
Would it be a year? Two years? 

Desperately, Dr. Rahin tried to 
move. Every muscle of the alien 
body strained with the ef- 
fort . . . and one of the tentacles 
moved. The paralysis was wearing 
away! Ariko didn’t notice. With 
a supreme effort Rahm eased the 
tentacle forward ... close to the 
floor ... it touched the Earth 
ankle . . . gently . . . 

Aiiko’s backward leap was too 
late. TTie Earth body crashed to 
the floor, but while falling the 
finger tightened automatically upon 
the trigger of the gun . . . twice, 
three times. Rahm felt the buUets 
enter his alien body. A hot sticky 
substance streamed out, but that 
did not stop him now. Grimly he 
puUed himself forward. The other 
tentacles were beginning to move. 
He wrapped one around the Earth 
body’s throat . . . 

Your own body! came frantically 
from Aiiko who seemed momentarily 

That doesn’t matter! Even if I 
must die . . . The tentacle tighten- 

Fool! Aiiko’s thoughts came in a 
desperate surge. You don’t know 
what have you done! I tried to 
warn you — Suddenly the Martian 
thought rose, overwhelmed him, 
took fierce hold on his mind. Dr. 
Rahm fought it, but only for seconds. 
The potential was too great. He 
felt his mind reeling, he couldn’t 


keep hold . . . and then he seemed 
back in a dream once more. 

In the dream he was a million 
miles somewhere in space. There 
was a great arctic wind, and he 
was cold. He cringed from the 
crystal starlight all about him. A 
great red body appieared, drawing 
him to it with unimaginable speed. 
He was on another planet. He knew 
it was Mars, yet it did not seem 
strange to him, because he was 
no longer Dr. Rahm . . . not even 
his mind. 

This was more than a dream! 
His mind was alert and hunger- 
clear. There were alien forms and 
cities. There were death and 
destruction and terror abroad, but 
it did not last long. All substance 
wavered into shadow. 

Again there came swift move- 
ment. He was somewhere in the 
vast stretches of a red desert and 
terror was here too, terror and 
frantic urgency. He was flee- 
ing . . . fleeing and hating, as 
somewhere afar off an omnivorous 
mind reached out with a snapping 
intelligence . . . 

It ccould only have been seconds, 
but the dream of his flight seemed 
to encompass an eternity. Then 
it wavered and blurred and slipped 
aside, and there was no more terror 
as Dr. Rahm’s mind passed into 
a great void beyond dreams. 

Dr. Wesley Rahm stirred and 
sat up. He was on his laboratory 
floor. He looked dazedly down at 
his hands. Two hands! Once more 
he inhabited his comfortable Earth 
body; comfortable, except for a chok- 
ing pain around the throat where 
a tentacle had wrapped. 


A figure was bending over him. 

“Lawton !” 

“I heard the shots. Is it really 
you, sir? Thank heaven you’re 
yourself again !” 

“Lawton! Aiiko — the Mar- 
tian — don’t let him die!” 

“I’m afraid it’s too late.” Lawton 
glanced with repugnance at the 
tentacled body. “Three bullets at 
close range — ” 

Dr. Rahm arose. He gazed sadly 
at the grayish hulk. “He shot 
himself, Lawton. Then he transfer- 
red his mind back into his own 
dying body and gave me mine 
again! But during that transi- 
tion ... I learned it all . . . the 
entire reason for his coming here!” 

Rahm turned to the table where 
the formulae still lay. He took up 
the bottle of acid, and with a 
sad smile poured the contents over 
the papers. 

“Dr. Rahm!” Lawton leaped 

“No, Lawton. I am myself again. 
Aiiko came here and gave his life 
to warn us, and I must carry 
through his plan. We shaU not 
want space-travel now and shall 
not achieve it . . . not for a few 

Lawton was a picture of abject 
misery as he watched the papers 
crumble away. 

‘It’s a strange thing, Lawton. 
In his dying moments Auko gave 
me the story, together with pictures 
out of his experience. It was aU 
too vivid! I remember, and I 
believe!” Rahm passed a hand across 
his brow as he remembered Aiiko’s 
story. He told it slowly. 

Mars was a dying planet. The 
Cismuks were the final race of 
Mars, and Aiiko was the last of the 
race. Despite their vast science the 
race had waned, particularly in the 
last score of years. Martians had 
perished in unprecedented numbers, 
entire cities were decimated, and for 
no apparent reason! All medical and 
biological science was put to the 
problem — ^without result! 

Only recently had the final group 
of scientists discovered the cause. 
It dated back more than a century, 
to the time when one of their 
Leaders, the super-minds, went 
mad. At that time he was cast 
out of the Supreme Council and 
it was thought that he had wandered 
into the Red Desert and died. 

Such was far from the truth. 
This crazed creature, a super-in- 
teUect, had taken refuge in the 
desert .There he labored unceasingly 
to prove his theories on mental 
wave lengths and absorption. And 
he succeeded! He proved his theories 
with vengeance! He worked as first 
through thalamic scanners which 
contacted other Martian minds and 
brought them into tune with his 
own. Gradually, he amplified the 
process. By means of inverse 
magnetic wave-lengths he literally 
absorbed other minds into his awn 
reservoir! Everywhere across the 
planet, slowly at first but with 
increasing frequency, Martian 
bodies died, but not before their 
mental p>ower was absorbed into 
the consciousness of this mad 
creature to become a part of that 
madness ! 

Dr. Rahm paused for a moment. 



He was pale and shaken as he 
relived the story and the terror 
which Aiiko had shown him. 

What a revenge this creature 
planned on those who had cast 
him out! His dream of conquest 
grew. He had fashioned a vast 
stronghold beneath the desert sands, 
and there he lived on, undetected, 
as the power of his consciousness 
multiplied in direct ratio to the 
depleted Martian populace. Only 
recently did the last of the Martian 
scientists find him. They fought, 
bringing all weapons into play, but 
it was too late. This mad creature 
had become a vast entity whose 
mental power encompassed most 
of the planet. And he dreamed of 
further conquests. . . 

Aiiko was the last. Fleeing to 
the furthermost pole of Mars, he 
finished the spaceship on which 
his colleagues had been working. 
He travelled to Earth. Imagine his 
horror upon learning that Earthmen 
were on the verge of space-travel 
and contemplating a trip to Mars! 
Aiiko destroyed his own space 
vessel, and then sought to destroy 
my plans. 

Dr. Rahm stopped there. The 
horror of events as telepathed by 
Aiiko were still mirrored in his 

Lawton was silent too, but he 
looked sadly at the heap of ashes 
that had been the work of so many 
months, even years. 

“You should never had done this. 
Dr. Rahm. Earthmen could have 
tried for other planets! 
Venus ...” 

“No, Lawton. For ages Mars has 
been a challenge. It’s the first logical 
space-step. And who would believe 
Aiiko’s story? In their colossal con- 
fidence Earthmen would try for 
Mars anyway. Their lives and minds 
would be forfeit as that mad intellect 
on Mars grew stronger. Already 
it had conquered a world! And it 
still lives! Our first spacer wouldn’t 
return, and others would go — and 
others and others. We would be 
feeding it! 

“Aiiko foresaw all this. He knew 
that intellect might conceive a space- 
ship of its own, if we sent it a model! 
But Lawton ... if we leave it 
alone, for a few years at the most, it 
win die for lack of mental susten- 
ance! There are no more minds on 

Lawton nodded solemnly, ac 
cepting this truth. But his mind 
was wry with bitter thoughts. 

“I know,” Rahm went on. “You 
worked hard with me on this, but 
it isn’t as though it were lost. 
No knowledge is ever lost. Others 
are working on the problem and 
they’ll find the way; p>erhaps better 
than we. Let us only hope not 
too soon!” 

Wistfully he stirred the ashes, 
all that was left of his work. They 
eddied and drifted gently up. 

The End 





T he high value placed on honesty in 
language usage is evident in the 
George-W ashington-and-the-cherry- 
tree myth, which upholds the value. 
But it is just as evident that people 
in our society lie, fib and palter all 
the time. 

But to judge lying as a moral 
wrong and be done with it is to 
dismiss the subject from an- 
thropological attention. Indeed, the 
evolutionary history of mankind 
could be written in terms of the dif- 
ferent kinds of lies and fictions that 
have been told through the ages, 
from our prehuman ancestors 
millions of years ago to the ego 
boasting we do at cocktail parties. 

The stages of communications 
evolution to be covered are as 
follows. Dates are in years Before 
Present (B.P.). 

I. Preglossic (prelinguistic 
communication) 36 miUion- 
50,000 B. P. 

II. Classic (linguistic commu- 
nication) 50,000-5,000 

1 . Isolated tribal folk 

2. Non-isolated peasant folk 

III. Graphic (writing) 5,000-100 

1. Monumental 

2. Manuscript 

3. Print 

IV. Telecommunicative 100- 
1. Print plus power trans- 



2. Electronically pwwered 
auditory extensions 
(telegraph, radio) 

3. Electronically powered 
visual extensions 

i. with power trans- 
pwrtation (cinema) 

ii. with radioed ex- 
tensions (TV) 

Before plunging into the depths of 
prehistory, it is worth noting that 
each higher stage includes the stage 
before it. Spoken language, which 
emerged in the Glossic stage, still 
contains a number of non-language 
survivals from the Preglossic stage, 
such as cries of pain (ow!) or the 
grunting noises (unh-huh) made 
during a difficult bowel movement. 
The invention of writing in the 
Graphic stage did not replace 
speech; and the electronic media co- 
exist with speech, writing and 

1. Preglossic. The origin of 
language is synonymous with the 
origin of man’s humanity. But what 
is language, and how does it differ 
from the call systems of other land 

It is no joke to say that the main 
pKJint of difference is that man is 
capable of boasting and teUing lies 
and animals are not. Animal signals 
which say “here is food,” “look out!” 
or “help!” never he. Such signals are 
emitted in the very presence of food 
or danger or whatever. But language 
is arbitrary and inventive. Humans 
can talk about past and future 
things, about distant and remote 
things, or even about non-existent 

Language is productive in this 
way because it is binary in structure; 

it operates at two different levels. 
We hear the message at the level of 
vocabulary. But the vocabulary is 
segmented into a fixed number of 
phonetic events, at a lower level, 
which themselves have no meaning. 
Language builds up its message 
units (morphemes) out of a stock of 
from 30 to 50 empty, positional 
sounds (phonemes). 

Animal calls, or phemes, are not 
segmented; they have no binary 
structure. Each cry, grunt, whine, 
squeal, hoot or roar is a signal sent 
and received as one over-all sound 
pattern. And the number of these 
different noise gestalts is limited to a 
fixed repetoire of no more than a 
dozen calls. 

The problem of how language 
originated may now be stated in a 
better way. What process allowed a 
closed system of phemes to open up 
so as to allow for binary structure? 

The answer to that is fairly easy to 
imagine: blending. The 

simultaneous presence of both food 
and danger might well raise up a 
new call blended from the one for 
announcing food (couiiii in a species 
of living gibbon) and the one for an- 
nouncing danger (koc, koq-kouq in 
the same species). While it is true 
that phemes are nothing but long, 
drawn-out sound patterns, animals 
may nonetheless recognize the 
whole from just a part of it, just as 
we may identify a familiar piece of 
music from the opening bars. A blen- 
ded call for food-plus-danger (cou- 
ouq, to take hberties with the p)oor 
gibbon) would add to the phemic in- 
ventory in quite a different way than 
the addition of a totally new call. 

There is a limit to the number of 



distinctly separate phemes an 
animal can learn to teU apart. Blen- 
ding is a way to avoid overloading 
the ability to discriminate. New 
signals made up &om the fragments 
of old established calls, like so many 
steam-pipe fittings, would have to 
lead to a binary structure if the in- 
ventory of new signals grew large 

But what prompted our prehtunan 
ancestors to do more communicating 
in the first place? Once the adaptive 
value of increased vocal signaling 
brought selective pressures to bear 
on the brainpower needed to handle 
the upped message flow, then it is 
only logical that blending would 
lead to a segmented structure of 
phonemes and morphemes. The out- 
come, language- — and humanity — is 
easy enough to see. But what was 
there so urgent to talk about that 
man himself was the result? 

The biggest event in human 
evolution calling for a change in 
behavior was the movement out of a 
forest environment into a plains 
environment. The ancestor of the 
human line was a small, monkey- 
like primate (Proplicrpithecus) of 
Oliogocene times from the forests of 
central Africa. During the following 
Miocene epoch the forest cover drew 
back from east and south Africa, 
leaving the present-day savan- 
nahland in its place. It is into this 
open country that man’s ancestors 
advanced. There is evidence that 
these ancestors were already up*- 
right, bipedal creatures by late Mio- 
cene times (Ramapithecus) and most 
certainly were by the time of the 
apemen (Australopithecus) at the 
bottom of the Pleistocene. (See NAK- 

in the September issue.) 

The erect, two-legged walking 
pasture of the ap)emen went with the 
use of tools and a changing social 
organization. The change from 
vegetarian browsing in the forest to 
carnivorous scavenging on the 
plains required butchering tools; 
and the danger from canine and 
feline predators required some form 
of cooperative social organization for 
mutual defense. Later, when the 
ap>emen evolved into the half-brain- 
ed men (Homo erectus), who became 
trackers of big game, the principles 
of coopjerative action were extended 
to foodgetting, with its emphasis on 
the use of language in planning the 
hunt. But even before that, the ap)e- 
men, and the half-brained men after 
them, were confronted with an in- 
crease of environmental complexity 
of their own making that had to be 
managed • somehow by means of 
more communication: the physical 
presence of tools, the knack of tool 
using and the accumulating bag of 
tricks for their manufacture, the 
mutual defense groups and later the 
hunting teams, not to mention the 
revolving of life around a campsite 
that eventuaUy took on the at- 
tributes of home and hearth, com, 
plete with fireplace and p)ermanent 
attendance by the female home- 
maker the while the males went 
hunting. And of course, the 
demands for more communication 
was reflected in the increase of brain 

Without a doubt the first hunters 
replayed the action of the day 
around the campfire at night in an 
imabashed display of ceremonial 



boasting. And doubtlessly manly 
valor was an entrance requirement 
into the hunting team, all the more 
incentive for a male to boast about 
what he had seen and done so as to 
be allowed to become “one of the 

Competitive efforts to get in with 
the gang is not an exclusively 
human trait. It happens among tom 
cats and male baboons. In cat socie- 
ty, the powerful toms sit together 
somewhere in the neighborhood and 
yammer out their challenge to the 
other toms which have not yet 
broken into this exalted fraternity. 
But these upstarts try. They come 
back again and again for a scrap, 
and get aU bitten and scratched, un- 
til they finally learn the fighting pro- 
wess of the big toms and can sit 
among them. The top dogs in the 
monkey rat race among baboons, to 
mix as many animals as metaphors, 
hold their place by virtue of their 
control over females in heat. To be 
“one of the boys” is to be allowed 
sexual shares in the harem. These 
shares are won by the upcoming 
younger males through a steady 
growth of strength and spatial en- 
croachment, barking and fang bar- 
ing all the while, on the domain of 
the big boys with their harem. 

It cannot be too far off the mark to 
imagine our prehuman apemen 
ancestors to have lived the life of ba- 
boons, with the added factor of up- 
ped communications demanded by 
their adaptation to a plains en- 
vironment. One very important use 
of their protolinguistic signahng 
would be self-magnification in the 
eyes of the big boys. 

In a way, the change from a child 

to a person in humans recapitulates 
the evolution of language firom 
monkey to man. When the child asks 
for food or calls attention to some- 
thing nearby he is stUl a little 
monkey. But when he begins to teU 
his mother where he’s been and 
what he’s seen, with considerable 
embroidering of the truth, then he 
becomes truly human. 

II. Glossic. By the time man 
became a skilled hunter, language 
was well established as the human 
mode of communication. A con- 
venient time marker for the begin- 
nings of the Glossic stage is the adv- 
ent of our own species (H. sapiens) 
about 50,000 B.P., when a jump 
forward in hunting skill is indicated 
by a highly elaborate tool kit and by 
the use of the dog as a hunting 

1. Isolated tribal folk. The tribal 
way of fife is characteristic of hun- 
ting bands and of village farmers to 
whom the techniques of agriculture 
were diffused from a distant civiliza- 
tion but who are not part of any 
civilization. Hunting bands may still 
be found in the interior of Australia. 
A good example of a tribal farming 
people are the pre-Columbia pueblo 
Indians, such as the Zuni or Hopi. 
Both types of society have small, in- 
timate populations which exist in 
relative isolation from each other 
and from direct contact with civil- 
ized peoples. 

In the folk communities of 
hunters and tribal farmers there is 
no aspect of an individual’s behavior 
or personality that is not known to 
everyone else. In a society of such in- 
tensive face-to-face relations, lies 



and falsehoods are impossible to get 
away with. Honesty is not so much a 
virtue here as it is an inescapable 
result of the fact that everybody lives 
down everybody else’s throat in a 
locked room, forever. 

2. Non-isolated peasant 
folk. Another tyj>e of small com- 
munity is the folk community of 
village people embedded writhin an 
agrarian civilization, such as the 
peasant villages of pre-communist 
China and Pharonic Egypt. Peasants 
produce the food for the ruling elite 
in these ancient forms of civiliza- 
tion, but do not participate in the 
arts, literacy or luxury consumption 
of the elite. The peasantry is so tied 
to the sod by lack of economic 
alternatives for them in the urban 
centers that they turn inward 
toward their rural community and 
are even more intensely local than 
are tribal people. The result, oddly 
enough, is a strange kind of rampant 
pretense: everyone boasts of being 
poorer than they are. 

The dense peasant population 
presses on a limited amount of 
cultivable land, and there is no 
way out of the village except through 
upward mobility to a power position 
among the lofty elite — ^which is like 
reaching for the moon. So the 
viUageers face inward. There is only 
so much land to go around; and 
everytime one famdy buys more, 
another famdy must seU to its loss. 
In fact everybody feels the loss 
because they know that their 
neighbors are potential competitors 
and the same thing could happen to 
themselves. The vdlagers live in a 
constant climate of mutual suspi- 
cion. To ward off the evil eye of 
jealousy, everybody dresses in rags 

and eats the poorest food, even if 
they can afford better. In addition, 
everybody works harder in the fields 
than they have to just to get the 
crops out, as a means of showing 
others that their land is being used 
to the fiidest, so please don’t any- 
body give me any dirty looks out of 
your land hungry eyes that you 
could do better with what I have. 
Hence the manicured look of 
Chinese plats. Here is visible eviden- 
ce that inequities of property arouse 
such intense jealousy and vigdent 
suspicion that p>easants must pro- 
tect themselves firom hostdity by 
concealing any wealth they have 
and by acting out a cult of pioverty 
and self-exploitation that does not 
correspond to actual conditions. 

III. Graphic. Peasant vdlages are 
the product of the ancient civiliza- 
tion, all of which have passed, or are 
passing, away under the universal 
spread of economic modernization 
from the industrial nation states. 
But at one time all men were 
hunters. The first breakthrough out 
of the hunting way of life took place 
in the highlands of Turkey and 
Palestine about 10,000 B.P., which 
eventuated in the Mesop>otamian 
and Egyptian civilizations in the 
lowlands of the fertde crescent. 
Other centers of civdization were the 
Harappan in the Indus vadey and 
the Chinese in the YeUow valley. 
The invention of writing, from about 
5000 B.P. in Mesopxjtamia, is 
associated with the rise of these Old 
World developments. But writing in 
the ancient civilizations remained a 
privdeged means of communication 
among the elite, not shared in by the 



III. (1) Monumental. The 
earliest known archeological 
samples of writing are property 
markings from western Asia. But the 
public use of writing was monumen- 
tal in form, messages carved on large 
stone columns, such as the code of 
Lipit Ishtar and Hammurubi. These 
messages proclaimed the penal laws 
of the political state. Here was no 
more possibility for false statements 
than a no trespassing sign. Egyptian 
monumental inscriptions very often 
contained biographical histories of 
the ruling elite. These histories may 
very well have been exaggerated, but 
they were not subject to editing or 
revision by anyone else. They were 
sacred texts, addressed to the gods; 
once inscribed the record 
either stood or was toppled, but 
never rewritten. The word “hiero- 
glph” itself means sacred writing. 

III. (2) Manuscript. Writing on 
paper, parchment or papyrous allows 
for the transport of messages from 
the sender to a receiver some 
distance away. Such a medium, of 
course, was vital to the formation of 
the early political states, as the 
system of pwsts in all the ancient 
civilizations testify. 

The possibilities here for falsifica- 
tion of the message are wide open, 
but not fully exploited. The Chinese 
emperor sent out orders to his 
governors miles away, but never 
could count on reliable feedback. 
There was no way of checking up on 
orders, as in modem China with its 
electronic communications; today 
orders go out to the heads of various 
bureaucratic organizations and the 
results can be found out. The official 
in traditional China could beg off 

turning in his tax quota with false 
reports of plague, flood or drought. 
But the truthfulness or non-truth of 
the replies is beside the point. The 
real point, in the absence of 
mechanized echelons of command, 
is that officials in the provinces were 
to make replies to the emperor as 
part of their ritual obligations to 
him, irrespective of the content. The 
emperor is simply the man who 
sends out the most messages; that is 
how you teU who the head of state is. 

While Chinese officials paltered 
with their reports, they never used 
the written language in a flippant 
way. Chinese Ideographic writing, 
like Egyptian hieroglyphics, had 
something of the mysterious and 
sacred attached to it as a result of its 
exclusive association with a power 
elite. From the viewpoint of the 
peasant, writing is power, no matter 
what the writing says, be it mystical 
nonsense or a land deed. Power 
persons themselves treated writing 
with respect, partly because ido- 
graphs lend themselves to more 
artistic treatment than does alpha- 
betic writing. Indeed, the attitude 
was that if a man couldn’t write a 
good hand he no more deserved the 
privilege of literacy than a peasant. 
Not only that, nobody should step on 
paper with writing on it, or place 
books on the floor where dirty feet 
walk. Right up tO the 20th century, 
charitable organizations existed in 
China for the salvage of orphaned 
paper with writing on it, to be col- 
lected from the streets, baled, and 
burned in high ceremony at the 
charity’s temples. 

III. (3) Print. Gutenberg’s bible, 
set in movable type in the mid-15th 



century, made a ceremonial object 
widely available. This is not quite 
the same thing as the availability of 
a dictionary or an encyclopedia in 
every home. Before printing, only or- 
dained ministers of the gospel had 
access to manuscript copies of the 
Holy Bible, and their congregations 
had to attend church to hear 
readings from it, a situation not 
unlike a group gathered around 
Homer to hear him recite his poetry. 

But printed books eventually 
opened up a totally new world of 
communications. Readers could go 
exploring these different worlds as 
an act of individual discovery, in- 
dependent of some social grouping, 
such as a congregation. By the end of 
the 15th century, 8 million books 
were in print in Europe. These were 
still expensive hand crafted objects 
in the hands of scholars, nobles and 
clerics. But by the 16th and 17th 
centuries, a literate, urban com- 
mercial middle class was acquiring 
inexjjensive editions of the same 
works and provided a market for 
more new worlds to explore, in- 
cluding the world of fiction. The de- 
mand for novels in the 18th century 
anticipated the style of mass com- 
munications that has dominated 
language usage in our own century; 
entertainment. Print thus opened up 
a new use or language which was 
neither a matter of truth or falsity, or 
of ceremonial rightness, but simply 
a matter of entertaining fiction. 

IV. Telecommunicative. Strict- 
Ly speaking, telecommunication is 
nothing more than communication 
at a distance, by semaphore and 
signal light as well as by telegraph 
and wdreless. Only in the last 100 
years as the electronic means of tele- 

communication come forth. The 
revolutionary changes worked by 
the electric media have also pro- 
foundly influenced printed media. 

IV. (1) Newspapers were the first 
medium of mass communication. 
They got their start in the 18th cen- 
tury, but reached large circulation 
only with the steam press in the 
1830’s and with the means of pnawer 
transp)ortation for delivery: the rail- 
roads, and later trucks and planes. 
Despite the ubiquitous ownership in 
the United States of radios and TV, 
which serve mainly for entertain- 
ment, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 
adults read a daily newspaper. The 
impact of the electric audio-visual 
media has been to make printed 
matter into an information service. 

A good example is the United 
States Army Material Command 
ship Corpu Christi Bay, which 
stores over 1.5 million items of 
graphic information on film or in 
hard copy. This floating central 
library serves over 30 repair depots 
by means of closed circuit TV and 
high speed facsimile transmission. A 
technician calls the library by push 
button intercom for a specific draw- 
ing and he gets a printout in 
seconds, and alittle longer if the 
clerk has to aim his mobile TV 
camera at hard copy. This kind of 
data storage and retrieval makes aU 
information a matter of facts to look 
up, whether they are ture or not, 
e.g., a doctoral condidate in English 
literature looking up a varorium text 
of a Dickens novel in the school’s 
computerized library, or a history 
major looking up one of Hitler’s lies 
in the same place. 

IV. (2) Electronically powered 
auditory extensions came before 



electronically powered visual ones- 
— telegraphs and radio before 
movies and TV. The telegraph was a 
system of jxjint to point com- 
munication, but radio broadcasts. 
The early days of radio, from its 
commercial inception in 1920 to the 
commercial spread of TV after 1948, 
served to provide a common 
stimulus to which hsteners could 
react to on a national basis. Hence 
the nostalgia with which today’s 
adults of the pre-TV generation view 
the old radio serials, for example, as 
a vanished bit part of American na- 
tional cuture. But TV has taken over 
this role, and radio can now play a 
role in serving local interests, e.g., as 
in ghetto radio. A feature of this 
localized service is the mixed media 
talk programs, in which people 
listen in to hear someone’s opinion 
telephoned in to the studio and 
broadcast. This is hardly a return to 
tribal communications, as Marshal 
McLuhan would have it, because the 
community of interests served here 
does not rest on inescapable face-to- 
face interaction in a locked room, 
which is the precondition for the 
tribal use of language with its im- 
possibility of telling lies. 

However, Marshall McLuhan is 
right in one respect when he argues 
that the electric media have made 
for a retribalization of com- 
munications: lies are simply less 
relevant. Language in the mass 
media, when it is not specialized in 
providing an information service, is 
an expressive instrument; it is given 
over to an image-making or myth- 
making role. The mythic function of 
language has amplified the split 
personality of the media, a split 


which began to appear in the 18th 
century with printed media as 
between the news values of daily 
papers and the entertainment value 
of novels. 

IV. (3) Electric visual extensions 
take two forms, movies and TV. 
Movies are pictures with a voice; TV 
is radio with pictures. But movies 
got their voice before TV got pic- 
tures. The result is two wholly dif- 
ferent media. Movie shows are very 
much like church services. In both 
cases there is a set program which 
the audience/congregation attends 
at an appointed time in a public 

But TV broadcasts pictures to the 
home aU the time on many different 
stations in a mosaic pattern of wildly 
juxtaposed programs and com- 
mercials. Commercials interrupt 
programs, highly disparate pro- 
grams are scheduled back to back, 
and the channel selector makes for 
even more discontinuity. 

In a way, TV is a reflection of our 
present-day social organization, 
with its mosaic of discontinuous set- 
tings, from home to office, to school, 
to club, to bowling gang, to church 
social, to cocktail party. We are not 
confined to one social arena in 
which to act, as are tribal folk, but 
we can switch to one or another Uke 
we switch TV channels, and the p>eo- 
ple we meet in one group do not 
necessarily know us from other ones 
'This makes possible the polite ego 
boasting at cocktail parties, which 
returns us full circle to our monkey 
ancestors who were still busy in- 
venting language itself with their 

The End 


WE ALL DIED AT BREAKAWAY STATION (Continued from page 35) 

There may have been laughter in her 
artificial voice. Bracer wasn’t sure. 

“Okay,” he said slowly. “I suppose 
I should thank you.” 

“That isn’t necessary. That wasn’t 
really a compliment.” 

Bracer smiled at her, then turned 
to the others. “Assuming that 
CDCHQ approves, and under the 
circumstances, I don’t see how they 
can help it, I will ask General 
Crowinsky to begin shutthng down 
the wounded. Perhaps . . Yes, 

2k>e Medawar’s hand had been 
raised. She spoke: “No, captain. I 
vote against that.” 


“We have nearly twenty thousand 
patients in cold-sleep in my ship,” 
the Rudoph Cragstone’s captain 
said. ‘To unship them all and 
transfer them down to Breakaway 
would take a day or two, maybe 
more. And it would take a heU of a 
lot of energey and fuel from 
Breakaway’s shutdes. Anyway, the 
real point is this: why bother? If 
anything happens they won’t be a 
damned bit safer on Brekaway than 
they are out here. If the Jillies do 
come back, there won’t be enough of 
Breakaway Station left to collect 

Or us either. Bracer thought. 

“Okay,” he said aloud. “You’ve 
made a point. The cold-sleepers will 
stay where they are.” He was silent 
for a few moments. “Do any of you 
have anything else to say now?” 

The others were silent, dweUing 
within their own silent hells. 

“Okay. Return to your ships. Make 
what preparations you can. If there’s 
anything I can do, let me know.” 

Salutes were exchanged, and then 
the starship officers began to file out 
of the cabin. 

“Go on to the bridge, Dan,” Bracer 
told his first officer. “I’ll be there in a 
few minutes.” 


Three and a half hours later 
General Crowinsky contacted 
CDCHQ on Earth and fifteen 
minutes after that Absolom Bracer 
had the permission he had re- 
quested. The ships would stay — and 
Earth would send relief as quickly as 
she could. Perhaps in less than five 
weeks, perhaps only four. 

Only four! 


What was the reaction of the other 
officers and the crewmen of the 
starships when Captain Bracer 
made the announcement that they 
would remain at Breakaway Station 
until the rehef ships arrived from 
Earth? That would be hard to 
describe. 'There were too many in- 
dividual reactions, too many 
p>ersonal feelings, thoughts, hopes, 
prayers, fears, horrors. No one 
wanted to stay, and, as Absolom 
Bracer has asked himself so often, 
“Haven’t we done enough?” 

In any war before they would 
have, most of them realized. But this 
was like no war that mankind had 
ever fought before. In this war there 
was no surrender, no possibility to 
settlement, for the Jillies would ac- 
cept no setdement on any human 
terms. There were only two 
alternatives: victory or death. It was 



that simple. If mankind lost this 
war, mankind would cease to exist, 
every last soul. 

No they knew that answer to their 
question, most of them. As long as 
the JiUies stood a chance of winning, 
no man had done enough if he were 
still capable of doing more. 

They would stay, most of them. 
And they would fight, if it came to 
that. Most of them. 

There were some, though, who 
would not or could not accept it. One 
painful death was enough for any 
man. No one had the right to ask for 
two, not for any reason in the 

And what were the reasons, when 
you boiled it down to that? To aid 
Breakaway Station in case of attack. 
Aid how? they asked. We can stand 
up here, the three of us, two crippled 
warships and a hospital ship, and 
pretend to put up a fight. We might 
even kill a Jillie or two if we’re lucky. 
But there’s no “might” to what 
they’d do to us! They’d slaughter us 
like cattle, and then go on to destroy 
Breakaway Station. Oh, we might 
delay them for a while, but what 
damned good is that going to do 
Breakaway, or us? It’s plain and 
simple suicide, and no sane man is 
asking that of us. 

But what could they do? 


It was little more than a standard 
day later that Absolom Bracer stood 
on the bridge with his first officer 
and Weapons Control Officer Akin 
Darbi, a whole-looking man whose 
stomach and intestines had been 
replaced by plastic tubes and 


metallic pumps, whose guts had 
been burned away by Jillie energy 
rifle blast during the bloody 
Carstairs Skirmish. 

“Drone released,” a voice said 
from the loudspeaker of the weapons 
supervision board. “Random sub- 
light flight.” 

“Very good,” Darbi acknowledged. 

Bracer watched the tiny blip that 
moved across one of the weapons 
screens, the screen that indicated 
the view from energy cannon turret 
four. Now it was just self-propelled 
target. What might it be tomorrow? 

‘Turret four, report!” Darbi said, 
pushing a button on the weapons 

“Turret four reporting, sir.” 

“Enemy in your sector. Take 
him,” Darbi said. 

The targe drone picked up speed, 
began a wavering course. A yellow 
line appjeared on the screen, in- 
dicating that an energy cannon blast 
had been fired. A light flashed from 
the drone: simulated return fire. 

“Turret four,” Darbi said quickly, 
“you’ve just been . . . ” 

“Captain Bracer !” 

He turned to look at the com- 
munications man who had called his 

“Breakaway Station says there a 
message coming in for you from 
Earth, sir.” 

“Put it on my console.” 

“It’s a ’gram, sir,” the comm man 
said. “It’s on the printout now.” 

Bracer activiated the power 
treads of his body cyhnder, rolled 
across the bridge tward the com- 
munications position, indicating 
that First Officer Maxel follow him. 

Now what? he wondered. The 


official orders assigning the ships to 
temporary duty at Breakaway Sta- 
tion had already come in. What 
more did Earth have to say to him 
that had come come in printed? 
When it was on paper, in God-alone- 
knew-how-many-copies, then it was 
really official. 

“Here you are, sir,” the com- 
munications duty man said, hand- 
ing Bracer the sheet of paper that 
had rolled out of the obsolete print- 
out unit. 

After quickly scanning the date, 
code numbers and official saluta- 
tion, Bracer found these words 
“Pursuant to the directive of the 
Colonial Defense Coordination 
Headquarters, Geneva, Earth, under 
the authority of the General Staff of 
the Armed Forces of the Galean 
League, dated 12/7/84, assigning the 
League starships Iwo Jima, TU-819, 
heavy battle cruiser, Pharsalus, TU- 
1005, heavy battle cruiser, and 
Rudoph Cragstone, RG-32, first class 
hospital ship to tempory duty in the 
Breakaway Station Sector . . . ” 
etc. And a little farther down: 
“ . . . the following promotions; 
Captain Absolom G. W. Bracer, GAM 
0193851847, promoted to Rear 
Admiral, placed in command of the 
temporary Breakaway Station 
Defense Force, consisting of the 
above mentione mentioned 
LSS ...” “Commander Daniel F. 
Maxel, Jr., GAM 0229039127, cur- 
rently First Officer, LSS Iwo Jima, 
promoted to Captain, placed in com- 
mand of the LSS Iwo Jima ...” 
“Lieutenant Commander Cling R. 
Reddick, GAM 0229719021, cur- 
rently Second Officer, LSS Iwo Jima, 

promoted to Commander, assigned 
as First Officer ...” 

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Bracer 
said despite himself. 

“Congratulations, admiral,” Max- 
el said, a broad grin breaking across 
his face. 

“Congratulations, yourself, cap- 


So they made me an admiral, 
Absolom Bracer said to himself as he 
rested in the darkness of his cabin, 
his back supported by the cylinder 
that maintained the biochemical 
processes of life. I never figured I’d 
make it. I thought I’d go back to 
Earth, spend a year or so in a 
hospital, and then maybe be releas- 
ed, maybe to go back to war — but I 
never expected to make admiral. Not 

You may never get back to Earth 
now, admiral, an unfriendly part of 
his himd said. 

And I may, he told himself. It’s 
been over three weeks since the 
JiUies initially attacked Breakaway. 
'They may not come back. We may 
just sit here until the relief ships ar- 
rive from Earth, and then go on our 
way, none the worse off for our 
stop — and as an admiral. 

And the JiUies may come! There’s 
stUl a damned good chance of that, 

. . . roger ... he thought. 

. . . yes, cap — admiral . . . 

... so you do make mistakes 
sometimes too, roger . . • . 

. . . yes, sometime, sir. i don’t 
claim to be perfect . . . 



Bracer smiled to hinself. 

. . . how to things look to you, 
roger? . . . 

. . . abroad ship, sir? . . . 

. . . weU, yes, that too . . . 

. . . you want an honest answer, 
don’t you, sir? . . . 

. . . yes, of course . . . 

. . . i’m not pleased, sir . . . 

. . . the performance of the 
men? . . . 

. . . yes. they’re slow, terribly 
slow, they’re really in no condition to 
fight . . . 

. . . i know that, roger, and i 
hope that we won’t have to . . . 

. . . what if we do, sir? . . . 

. . . then we’U do our best, can 
you help them? . . . 

. . . some, yes, but neither i nor 
the mech computer are capable of 
watching everything, we aren’t 
capable of fighting this ship, that’s 
why you have crewmen . . . 

. . . i know that too . . . 

. . . please don’t misunderstand, 
sir. most of your crewmen are trying, 
i believe that they’re doing their 
best, and perhaps, if we do have a 
showdown with the jillies,they will 
react even better . . . 

. . . perhaps . . . 

. . . you’re asking a lot of them, 
sir . . . 

. . . i know that, roger, but 
we’ve got to do all we can to keep 
breakaway operating . . . Bracer 
paused for a long while. . . . roger, 
am i asking any more of them than 
was asked of you, or even as 
much . . . 

. . . what do you mean, sir? . . . 

. . . well, you were — i mean . . . 

. . . perhaps i do understand, sir. 

but i’m not sure that i can answer 
you. you see, sir, i was killed a lot 
deader than you were, my whole 
body was destroyed, when they got 
my ship the only part of me that the 
’bots were able to get into cold-sleep 
was my head, shoulders and a part 
of my spine . . . 

For a moment Bracer felt sick. He 
had lost a lot too, both legs, an arm, 
his eyes, a piece of his skull; he had 
died, but they had brought him back 
to fife and said that they could 
rebuild him on Earth. But Roger, or 
whatever “Roger” had been, hadn’t 
had that option. 

. . . when they brought me 
back, sir . . . Roger went on, 
. . . i wasn’t much more than a 
brain floating in a saline solution, i 
couldn’t see or feel or even think 
very well, for that matter, it’s not as 
hard to talk about as it once was. 
well,- sir, they told me what hap- 
pened, and they told they that they 
couldn’t put me back together, there 
just wasn’t enough left, they 
could — ^weU, let me go, if i wanted, i 
mean, they’d let me die for good, or 
they could put me in a mechanical 
body, i chose to live, sir, so they 
made me a starship, they just asked 
me if i wanted to live, admiral, they 
didn’t ask me to die again, that’s 
what you’re asking of your men . . . 

. . . i know . . . 

. . . and tat’s what you’re asking 
of yourself, that’s not easy . . . 
The ship’s Organic Computer paus- 
ed for a moment. . . . i’m happy the 
way i am, sir. it may seem strange, 
but i am. i think happier than I ever 
was before, you can’t imagine it. but, 
sir, you’re not happy . . . 



. . . right now that’s not im- 
portant, roger . . . 

. . . what is important, sir? . . . 
. . . breakaway station . . . 
Bracer was silent for a few moments. 
. . . roger, what i really wanted to 
ask you is this: do you think i did the 
right thing? do you think we should 
stay? . . . 

... I told you before, sir, i can’t 
decide for you . . . 

. . . For god’s sake, roger, i’m not 
asking you to take over my 
responsibilities, i’m just asking for 
moral support . . . 

. . . i can’t even give you that, 
sir . . . 

. . . why? . . . 

. . . i just can’t sir . . . 

. . . you mean you think i did 
wrong? . . . 

. . . i don’t know, sir. i’m not 
sure, but — ^well, 1 don’t like the 
odds . . . 

. . . and what are the odds? . . . 
Roger’s mind made a sound that 
would have been a bitter laugh had 
it been produced by human vocal 
cords. . . . i don’t really know,sir. i 
wish i did. but, look, sir. one, the 
odds are great, i don’t know how 
great, but great that the jiUies will 
come back and with a force much 
greater than ours, two, the odds are 
also great, and again i don’t know 
how great, that they’U come back 
very soon . . . 

. . . okay, go on . . . 

. . . weU, if they do come back, 
sir, and if their force is greater than 
ours, they’ll wipe us out, totally 
destroy us — and breakaway station, 
sir, i don’t want to die for 
nothing . . . 

. . . i don’t either, roger, but how 
can you say it’s for nothing? . . . 

. . . for what, sir? we can p)er- 
haps give breakaway a few more 
hours of life if we tire attacked, but 
that’s all. a few hours . . . 

. . . but, . . . yes, but — . . . 

. . . but, what, sir? . . . 

. . . maybe breakaway will need 
those few hours . . . 

. . . admiral, the chances of our 
doing anything significant for 
breakaway are so small — well, so 
small that i can’t figure them . . . 

. . . You’re probably right, roger. 
but we won’t know for sure unless it 
happens, will we? . . . 

. . . no, sir, i suppose not . . . 

. . . stay with me, roger . . . 
Bracer thought suddenly, urgently. 

. . . i need you . . . 

. . . i’m not going anywhere, sir. 
not without you . . . 

Bracer smiled to himself. 

. . .thank you, roger. good 
night . . . 

... 1 hop)e you rest well, sir . . . 
Bracer then wished that he dared 
to take another sleeping pUl, decided 
against it, activated the “seeing” 
circuits of his prosthetic skull and 
scanned the cabin in the darkness. 

The acute artificial eyes discerned 
the outlines of a table, the chairs and 
desk he couldn’t really use, the 
lockers, the paintings hanging on 
the bulkheads. Nothing. Nothing of 
any importance, of any value. It was 
just a cabin. A place. A hole to crawl 
into. Nothing more. There was no 
personality to the room. Nothing to 
indicate the nature of the man who 
lifed there, to say, “This is mine.” 

But what personality do I have 



now? he asked himself. Any? Am I 
just as much a semi-organic 
machine as Roger? A thing that’s 
just part man? 

Hell! That’s enough of that, 

Again he cut off the visual 
circuits, let the total blackness settle 
over his brain, started counting from 
zero and hoped that eventually he 
would fall off to sleep. 

One. Two. Three. 

If Absolom Bracer had had a left 
foot it would have been hurting him, 
at least his neural system told him 
that there was a sharp pain in that 
nonexistent left foot, just below the 
ankle. ’The pain throbbed, grew, 
began moving up the monexistent 
leg to a nonexistent knee cap. 

Dammit, he thought, it seems like 
those doctors could have done 
something about that. 

One hundred and nine. One hun- 
dred and ten. One hundred and 

He continued to count, continued 
to lean back and rest as best he 
could, continued to try to sleep. 

Random, abstract, meaningless 
patterns began to dance before his 
“eyes.” A red amoeba shape rose 
from below, came swimming up out 
of the blackness, thin, translucent, 
throbbing, growing like the pain in 
his vanished leg of which that was a 
visual symbol, swelling finally to fill-- 
the whole range of his infinite 

Four hundred and seventeen. 
Four hundred and eighteen. Four 
hundred and nineteen. 

Now the red amoeba was gone, 
swallowed up by the darkness that 
was impossibly black. The pain still 


throbbed in his imaginary leg, but 
not as greatly. It was passing. 

Five hundred and twenty-two. 
Five hundred and twenty-three. Five 
hundred and twenty-four. 

Now the darkness was speckled 
with stars, and it was not so black. 
There was a bright yellow Sol-size 
star a few Ught-weeks away. He 
remembered that star, UR-339-72, 
Breston Catalog, and he should 
remember it. 

It had six planets. A norm-type 
planetary system. A cousin of Sol’s. 
None of these planets were con- 
fortably habitable by humans, but 
there was a small observation sta- 
tion on one of them. 

Six hundred and fifty-three. Six 
hundred and fifty-four. Six hundred 
and fifty-five. 

The foiurth planet of UR-339-72 
was a primitive, unborn Earth, a 
planet that would have been perfect 
for • Man had its atmosphere con- 
tained a decent i)ercentage of oxy- 
gen; perhaps it would some day, a 
billion years hence, when the ex- 
ceedingly primitive pseudebacteria 
that were its only lifeform had 
evolved far enough to begin expeUlng 
oxygen into UR-339-72-IV’s atmos- 
phere. ’There was, however, an auto- 
mated League observation post on 
the planet, an electro-mechanical 
station that scanned and probed 
the spaces surrounding UR-339-72, 
hidden as well as hampered by 
the planet’s blaket of atmosphere, a 
cover that did not greatly interfere 
with its probing of near 
space — scanners and sensors that 
swept a heavily traveled JiUie com- 
merce route. 

It was a computerized, automated, 

unmanned station light-years from 
any human settlement, and every 
standard week it send back to its 
home base on Carstairs an FTL 
message probe containing a record 
of the previous week’s observations. 
Eve^ six standard months a League 
starship would creep into that sector 
of space, land on UR-339-IV, 
refurnish the post with FTL message 
probes, and then quickly, quiedy 

But something went wrong at that 
station. Long before its probe supply 
should have run short it ceased sen- 
ding messages. A standard month 
passed without data reaching 
Carstairs. Intelligence headquarters 
informed Adrianopolis — and 
AdrianopoUs dispatched the LSS 
Crecy to investigate. 

Absolom Bracer had been captain 
of the LSS Crecy. 

Seven hundred and three. Seven 
hundred and four. Seven hundred 
and five. 

Two weeks later the LSS Crecy 
came out of star drive six light-weeks 
from UR-339-72-IV and carefuUy 
probed space before her. If the 
observation p>ost had been attacked, 
it should have broadcast a warning. 
The leading edge of that signal 
should be about six Ught-weeks from 
the planet now. Yet no warning was 

The Crecy moved forward three 
light-weeks and probed again. Stdl 
no distress call from the post. 

Into star drive again, the Crecy 
moved forward to within a few light- 
minutes of the desolate world, open- 
ed its electromagnetic ears and 
listened for the wailing, warning 

cries of the observation station. But 
there were none. 

With all hands at battle stations, 
screens up, weapons at ready, the 
League starship moved toward the 
planet at sub-light speeds, and stdl 
listened, stdl watched. Except for 
the radio noises of the yeUow sun 
and the background roar of the 
stars and galaxies, the receivers de- 
tected nothing, neither the “Mayday” 
of the observation station nor the 
shrill chatering of Jdlie communi- 

UR-339-72-IV sweUed from a pin- 
point of reflected light to a pale cres- 
cent to a world in space. 

Cold sweat trickled down the back 
of Absolom Bracer’s neck. 
Something was wrong. The observa- 
tion post might have broken down, it 
and its back-up systems. Its power 
ceds might have shorted out. Its 
solar receptors might have faded. 
Its . . . But he didn’t think so. Cad 
it a feeUng, a hunch, a premonition, 
ESP, but something was by-God 

Eight hundred and thirty. Eight 
hunred and thirty-one. Eight hun- 
dred and thirty-two. Absolom Bracer 
continued to count, but sleep would 
not come. Not yet. 

But in his mind: now the distance 
to the planet was counted in 
kdometers, not in units of light, and 
Captain Bracer placed his ship in a 
sweeping, spiraling orbit around the 
yedow-gray planet, and dstened and 
probed and wondered. 

Stdl nothing. The starship passed 
direcdy above the post and beamed 
it an identiflcation signal. The sta- 
tion did not reply. 



Six hours passed. Seven. Eight. 
Finally a standard day had elapsed 
in orbit and no signs of enemy ac- 
tivity had been detected, nor had the 
observation pKJSt shown any in- 
dications of “life.” 

Finally Captain Bracer overcame 
his fears, his reservations, and 
ordered the ship down, ordered the 
LSS Crecy to go in and take a look. 

Flipping 180°, the plasma drive 
flared briefly; the starship braked in 
its spin around the world known on- 
ly as UR-339-72-IV. Down. The ship 
entered the fringes of the poisonous 
atmosphere down through the yellow 
fogs that passed for air, down toward 
the flat and desolate plain where sat 
the observation station. 

Now one hundred kilometers. 
Now fifty. Twenty. Ten. Five. One. 

The starship hung on gravatic 
beams a kilometer above the station 
and once more searched, probed, 
listened. The response was the same. 

“Bring her in over there,” the cap- 
tain said to his first officer, in- 
dicating the landing field a few 
hundred meters to the west of the 
quiet station. 

“Yes, sir,” the first officer 
answered. He touched controls. He 
spoke commands. And the starship 

At five hundred meters from the 
surface the LSS Crecy’s defensive 
force screens went down. 

At four hundred meters the JiUie 
missiles rose. 

From a dozen hidden places 
around the silent observation station 
nuclear missiles burst from the bar- 
ren ground, climbed skyward on 

torches of broken atoms, sighted in 
on the LSS Crecy, and carried death. 

“Screens up!” Captain Bracer yell- 
ed. “Boost out of here! Energy can- 
non — destroy these missiles.” 

The missiles were moving at sub- 
light speeds this close to a planetary 
mass, but still they came fast, far 
faster than human eyes could follow 
them once they had really begun to 
accelerate. Captain Bracer and his 
crewmen could not see the missiles 
now, but laser-radar could and did 
and aimed the energy cannon that 
fired in reply. 

The starship’s drive came to life. 
She jerked, surged forward, upward, 
awy from the planet and the 
missiles, while the humans aboard 
her felt the pressure of acceleration 
despite the gravatic shielding of 

But the missiles had a head start. 
They were moving faster that the 
starship. And though radar found 
them and energy cannon blasted 
them, there was not enough time to 
stop them all. 

The Crecy was out of the at- 
mosphere when the missile reached 
her, striking amidships, exploding 
with megatons of hell. Force screens 
had gone up by then, but not to full 
power, and though they deflected 
the bulk of the fury unleased by the 
missile, they could not fully protect 
the starship. Her hull reputured, air 
and men spilled out into the radia- 
tion-filled vacuum. 

Even before he picked himself up 
off the deck where the concussion 
had thrown him. Captain Bracer 
realized what was waiting for them 
outside the atmosphere, above. 



under the naked light of UR-339-72; 
a Jillie warship, somehow hidden 
and undetected, but now moving in 
for the kill. 

The LSS Crecy was badly wound- 
ed, but she could still put up a good 
fight. She would make the Jillies pay 
for her destruction, pay dearly. 

Bracer yelled orders, saw the 
swarm of plasma torpedos burst 
from his ship, light the darkness, 
speed toward the enemy. He also 
saw the energy cannon and torpedos 
that fired back. 

He even saw the plasma torpedo 
that broke through the Crecy’s 
screens as nuclear missiles began to 
buffet the enemy ship, began to tear 
her apart as the Crecy was being 
torn apart. But mosdy he saw the 
torp)edo that come on toward him, 
through the flickering, dying 
screens, to the very huU, to burn its 
way through metal and ceramics 
and paraglas into the ship. He felt its 
heat, terrible, agonizing, star-hot 
heat. Then he saw the bridge’s 
bulkheads glow red, then white — 
and then he never saw anything 
again with his own eyes. 

He did not remember the ’hots 
that scurried out of their waiting 
places to grab . his burned and 
mutilated body and stuff it into an 
open cold-sleep cof&n. He was dead 

One thousand eighteen. One 
thousand nineteen. One thousand 

The battered, very nearly beaten 
Jillie warship Limped off, away to 
whatever place it is that damaged 
Jillie warships go for repairs, 
wherever it is that wounded, 
mutilated Jillie starmen go to be 

rebuilt again. And the wreck of the 
LSS Crecy, crewed by half-operating 
machines and dead men in cold- 
sleep coffiins, feel into a fairly stable 
orbit around UR-339-72-1V, and 
there she remained until she was 
found some weeks later by a second 
warship from Adrianopolis. What 
was left of the Crecy’s crew was 
taken abroad the newcomer and car- 
ried back to Adrianopolis, cold and 
dead, where some of them, like 
Absolom Bracer, where returned to a 
semblance of life. 

One thousand ninety-eight. One 
thousand ninety-nine. One thousand 
one hundred. 

He had lived it again. 

Then Absolom Bracer slept. 


There was much disaffection 
aboard the three starships. A 
minority, but apparently an ex- 
tremely argumentative minority of 
the crew of th6 Iwo Jima was begin- 
ning to make plain its disagreement 
with the decisions of its senior 
officers. The disgrunded crewmen of 
the Iwo were led, at least nominally, 
by the new first officer. Commander 
Cling Reddick, a once excellent com- 
bat officer who now lived only 
through the courtesy of an intricate 
series of artificial nerves that 
coordinated the involuntary actions 
of his body, replacing damaged por- 
tions of his nerveous system. 

Reddick was aware of his respon- 
sibilities as first officer. Bracer 
knew, but still could not keep his 
mouth shut about his feelings con- 
cerning the decision to remain at 
Breakaway until the relief convey 



axrived from Earth. His argument, 
and the argument of these who 
followed him, was substantially the 
same as that Roger had used during 
his recent conversation with Bracer: 
and the admiral was fully and un- 
comfortably aware of the logic of 
that argtmient. There really wasn’t a 
great deal he could say to counter it, 
but that wasn’t his job anyway. He 
had his hands full without wasting 
time arguing with the officers. That 
was Maxel’s job now, if anyone’s; let 
him worry about Reddick, and 
keep him and those who agreed with 
him in line. 

In actuality. Bracer wasn’t too 
worried about Reddick. He had an 
excellent record, and the Iwo’s 
medical officer testified that Reddick 
was as well balanced mentally as 
anyone else aboard the starship. 
Reddick would gripe and bitch — and 
Maxel would reprimand him — but it 
would probably never come to any- 
thing more than that. 

Such was not the case aboard the 
Pharsalus, though Bracer did not 
know it until it was too late. 


A standard week after the 
decision, and the subsequent recep- 
tion of orders from CDCHQ to re- 
main at Breakaway, the attempted 
mutiny took place. 

Admiral Bracer, still unac- 
customed to the new braid on his 
shoulders, was just leaving the 
bridge when an urgent call came 
from the Pharsalus. 

“Admiral,” called the voice of 
Comm Officer Cyanta as Bracer 
thumbed the hatch open, ’’emergen- 


cy signal from Captain Bavins.” 

“Put it on my console,” Bracer 
called back, spun around on the 
power treads of his body cylinder, 
and rolled back to the command con- 
sole in the center of the starship’s 
bridge. When he reached it Bavins’ 
image was already in the tank, the 
surviving portion of his face show- 
ing obvious agitation. 

“Admiral,” Bavins said breath- 
lessly, “may I borrow a squad of 
your marines?” 

“What is it. Chuck?” Bracer ask- 
ed, his worst fears, or perhaps his 
second worst fears, coming to the 
front of his mind. 

“I think it’s mutiny.” 


“Yes, sir. I think so.” 

“What do you mean, captain, you 

“Well, it . . .” Bavins’ face paled, 
then he spun around. For a moment 
all that Bracer could see in the tank 
was his back. 

“Bavins?” Bracer yelled. “What in 
hell is going on over there?” 

Then he heard Bavins’ voice: 
“What are you doing here? You’re all 
under . . .” 

The next sound was really two 
sounds in one, two frightening, 
disgusting sounds: the rasp of 
energy pistol and a strangled groan. 
Bavins’ back retreated from the 
tank, then vanished as the captain of 
the LSS Pharsalus fell forward. 

For a moment Bracer could see 
across the deck of his sister ship, 
could see the handful of crewmen 
who stood in the open hatch, 
weapons in their hands, gesturing. 
One weapon, held in the prosthetic 
hand of a big man in engineering 


uniform, still glowed from its recent 

“Over there,” the big engineer was 
saying. “Move. We’re taking over, 
and we’re going . . .” 

“Shut up, mister!” 

Bracer recognized the voice. It 
was that of Lena BugioU, Pharsalus’ 
first officer. And there was anger 
and authority in her voice. 

“Miss Bugioh, I don’t want to hurt 
you,” the mutinous engineer said, 
“but so help me God, I’ll cut you 
down if you try to stop us.” 

“You’ll do no such thing, Hansey. 
You’ll put that gun down, and sur- 
render yourself to the master-at- 

First Qfi&cer Bugioli rolled into 
Bracer’s view, her torso mounted on 
a cylinder like his own. She was 
unarmed except for the fierce 
determination in her eyes and the 
stripes of rank on her shoulders. 

“No, ma’am,” said the man she 
had called Hansey. “We’re going 

“There’s no place for you to go, 
Hansey. You killed your captain. 
There are too many witnesses. Both 
on this ship and on the Iwo.” She 

gestured toward the tri-D tank. “The 
admiral is watching this very 

Hansey’s eyes shot toward the 
tank. His face paled. 

“We’re going home!” he yeUed 
defiantly, aimed the energy pistol at 
the tank and fired. 

For an instant Bracer has the 
sensation that he was going to feel 
the blast as it struck the command 
console in the other ship. The tank 
brightened for a moment, its loud- 
sjjeaker squeeled, then both went 

Slamming his open palm down on 
the panel before him, snapping a 
switch as he did so. Bracer yeUed: 
“Colonel Garrighar!” 

“Marine quarters. Carrighar here, 
sir,” replied a voice fi:om the console. 

“Colonel, spacesuit your men and 
take a shuttle over to the Pharsalus 

“Yes, sir. May I ask . . .” 

“Mutiny, colonel. Go stop it.” 

“Yes, sir.” 

My God, it’s happened now. 
Bracer thought. I hoped that we 
could avoid this. 

The End 


The March AMAZING will contain the concluding part of 
Richard C. Meredith’s serial, WE ALL DIED AT BREAKAWAY STA- 
TION, of course; it wiU also include new stories by Thomas M. 
Disch and John T. Sladek —THE INVASION OF THE GIANT 
about which we’re unusually excited; we think that they may be 
nothing less than the two best short stories the field will see all 
year. Plus a new David R. Bunch, IN THE TIME OF DISPOSAL OF 
INFANTS — ^we like Mr. Bunch very much indeed — and PRELUDE 
TO RECONSTRUCTION, a novelette by Durant Imboden who is, 
among other talents, assistant fiction editor over at our competitor, 




Specialists will note that until 
this time, my editorial presence 
in these magazines has been 
reflected only in the blurbing and 
story selection. This is not coin- 
cidental; a Action writer by instinct 
as well as bad luck, I have found 
it necessary to lie almost all the 
time in order to reflect any kind 
of truth whatsoever. Nevertheless, 
all good precedents must end 
sometime — did you ever hear of 
an s-f editor who never said a 
word to his readers in his col- 
umn? — ^including this one. Two fast 
comments, first in response to the 
bulk of mail comment we have 
seen through the first five months 
of our administration. 

Firstly, AMAZING and FAN- 
TASTIC will contain no letter col- 
umn, after all. There is much to 
be said of the Socratic uses of 
such a department; there is also, 
I think, a fair amount to be said 
against them. Too often, this depart- 
ment takes up space that could 
be more wisely used on fiction. 
This is particularly so in these 
magazines and — barring 
overwhelming objections — would 
prefer to use the 3,000 words or 
so of a letter column as space 
for an additional new story or two. 

Secondly, the reprint policy of 
these magazines will continue for 
the forseeable future; publisher 
perogative being as significant here 
as it is in any other branch of 
publishing. A large and increasing 
percentage of space however will 
be used for new stories and I 


think that the bulk of our original 
material can now be said to compare 
favorable with that of our com- 

Finally, it is my contention that 
the majority of modem magazine 
science-fiction is Ul-written, ill- 
characterized, iU-conceived and so 
excruciatingly dull as to make me 
question the ability of the writers 
to stay awake during its com- 
position, much less the readers dur- 
ing its absorption. Tied to an older 
tradition and nailed down 
stylistically to the worst hack cliches 
of three decades past, science-fiction 
has only within the past five or 
six years begun to emerge from 
a long, dead period which occurred 
otherwise during what was probably 
the most interesting and significant 
decade of our national history. It 
has been able to emerge from its 
category trap only because certain 
intelligent and dedicated people 
have had the courage to wreck 
it so that it could crawl free. One 
must destroy, it seems, in order 
to do anything useful. (Our modem 
assassins have, perhaps, taken this 
too literally). I propose that within 
its editorial limits and budget, 
do what they can to assist this 
rebirth — one would rather call it 
transmutation — of the category and 
we wiU try to be hospitable to 
a kind of story which is stfil having 
difficulty finding publication in this 
country. Not, of coturse, to the 
total exclusion of other kinds of 

In short, I hope to come to 

terms with science-fiction in these 
magazines the way that I think 
science-fiction ought to come to 
terms with the world: cautiously, 
respectfully, eclectically, but with 
the clear understanding after all 

that there is a great deal wrong 
with the full range of it and at 
least a little bit that can be done, 
once you know what’s 
wrong. — ^Barry N Malzberg 

ROSEMARY’S BABY (Continued from page 65) 

electric genius would have been the 
only way to gloss them over, and 
electric genius is, I’m afraid, toe 
much to hope for most of the time. If 
Maurice Evans, in a thankless role, 
merely walks through his scenes, 
still we may watch Mr. Evans, whose 
walk is not despicable. There has 
been a good deal of talk about Mr. 
Polanski’s lack of command of 
American dialogue, but this is 
desperation: the dialogue, when it is 
not the novel word-for-word, is at 
least as good as that in most ac- 
ceptable movies, and better than 
some (I refer you to GUESS WHO’S 
particularly horrid example.) 

But how if life should refuse to 
reside there? 

The book is, in truth, an eviable 
work. The movie is an illustrated 
book. (Not to make too much of this, 
but Mia Farrow at one point reads 
aloud necessary information from a 
book sent her by someone else; later, 
one does see the printed book in 
another, and equally wordy, con- 
nection.) An illustrated novel is not, 
unfortunately, a viable film; the 

translation firom one medium to 
another has, simply, not been ac- 
complished; it seems, in fact, barely 
to have been tried. 

I must add that Mia Farrow gives 
an astonishing performance, adding 
real tenderness and Innocence to the 
stock scared-heroine of such things; 
that Sidney Blackmer is authorita- 
tive and very nearly perfect; that if 
Ruth Ford steals every scene she 
is in with shameless mugging, it’s 
worth the damage to the scene just 
to watch Miss Ford in action; that 
the music is mostly undistinguished 
but decent (Beethoven, whose FUR 
ELISE is played here and there in 
the background, gets what I believe 
is his very first screen credit); and 
that Elisha Cook, a fine actor living 
a life of eighth-rate parts, is thrown 
away once again. I’m afraid Satan is 
disappointing — but, then, I suppose 
he would be, in any theology I 

So: see the movie, if you like; but 
bring a copy of the book for dull 
moments. You’ll hardly notice the 
change from one medium to another. 







Arthur C. Clarke: 2001 — A Space 
Odyssey. New American Library, 
New York, 1968. 221pp., boards, 
$4.95; paper, 95c 

This handsomely produced 
book — I could find only two 
typos ! — offers fascinating and 
disturbing insights into the dif- 
ferences between the story sense 
of a novelist and that of a brilliant 
movie producer. As everybody 
knows by now, the movie was pro- 
duced from a story-hne by Clarke 
under conditions of continuous 
modification by Stanley Kubrick, 
the modifications then subject to 
re-approval (at least to a major 
extent) by Clarke. Then the novel 
was written. 

Unlike the picture, the novel is 
quite unambiguous; everything is 
not only explained, but over-ex- 
plained. Thus each work of art — the 
film and the novel — ^has a seperate 
and unique set of deficiencies, each 
one the opposite of the other, despite 
the four-year long intimacy of the 
collaboration between the two au- 

thors. The two works meet in the 
middle: both men have an almost 
compulsive interest in making 
things sound technically plausible, 
so that in both the novel and the 
picture, the machines not only look 
as though they would work, but as 
if they are actually at work. 

From this meeting ground the 
two concepts part company. In the 
novel, Clarke tells you where the 
extra-terestial slabs come from, how 
they work, how many of them there 
are, and what they do to mankind. 
He explains what happened after 
the slab on the Moon jammed the 
spacesuited men’s headsets; he ex- 
plains why the computer Hal went 
mad; he explains why the pulse 
from the Moon launched the Jupiter 
expedition; he explains the en- 
counter with the final slab, the 
faster-than-Ught drive, the nature 
of the various wild visions the 
ultimate space-traveller sees — he 
explains, moreover, what that motel 
room is doing at the end of the 
picture, and he explains precisely 
what kind of transformation takes 



place in the last few minutes. There 
is a moment of ambiguity in the 
last line of the novel, but it is 
only a small one. 

Kubrick skips every one of these 
steps, dividing his picture into four 
sections separated by huge logical 
gaps. For the sake of drama, he 
makes the murder of the men aboard 
the Jupiter mission by the computer 
much more dramatic, but much 
less sensible; for example, there 
is no reason in the picture why 
the extravehicular pod has to anchor 
so far from the Discovery, except 
to make a more striking scene, 
and in the book the pod is not only 
clamped onto the body of the 
Discovery proper, but the spaceman 
outside it is anchored by a lifeline, 
as would be only sensible. Kubrick 
is not interested in the sense of 
the story, but only in how it feels. 

Similarly, Clarke’s description of 
the interstellar trip, and the things 
seen along the way, makes perfect 
science-fictional sense. Kubrick 
omits aU explanations, including 
some perfectly good ones which 
would have filmed very well (I speak 
from some experience) in favor of 
a vast display of cinema pyrotech- 
nics which are marvellously excit- 
ing, and never mind whether they 
are explained or not. The ending of 
the film is so telescoped that I have 
heard six different explanations of 
it by sophisticated viewers all con- 
sistent and every one of them ex- 
cluding all the others. The one 
Clarke intended was among these, 
but the film fails to make this clear; 
instead, the film includes a number 
of pieces of symbolism (such as the 
episode of the shattered wine-glass) 

which while serving some poetic 
functions tend to distract the viewer 
from the overt, surface meaning of 
the finale. 

On the other hand, Kubrick 
evidently saw immediately that all 
the characters are ciphers, and 
should be ciphers; where Clarke 
attempts to give them, without 
successes, some personality of their 
own, Kubrick’s script makes them 
more machine-like than the ma- 
chines which dominate them, and 
stresses the excruciating banality 
of their conversations and the even 
more painful sterotypes into which 
their emotions are compressed. 
These men need rebirth. The tool-in- 
venting habit which the slabs have 
given them has become a trap; 
nothing less than a complete change 
of orientation is going to save them, 
and the slabs are morally obligated 
to supply it, and do. The poetry 
of the machinery itself is gorgeous, 
but it is also confining; and (in 
Kubrick’s view) the logic of the 
story, being only an extension of 
this machine-like type of reasoning, 
is non-visual and hence can be 
dispensed with, and is, where the 
novel goes on and on and on about 
it well beyond the verge of duUness. 

The novel has very little of the 
pwetry of the picture; the picture 
fails to teU you what it is about. 
If Clarke and Kubrick could be 
persuaded to spend, say, about half 
a million dollars more to fill in 
the logical jumps and show us 
what the ending intends, the picture 
would be a masterpiece and the 
novel would be unnecessary. As 
matters stand now, the novel is 
not very rewarding, since it lacks 



most of the picture’s strangths; but 
it has to be read before one can 
understand the picture. In the ideal 
situation, the novel should have 
been totally useless. 

D. G. Compton: Synthajoy. Ace 
Books, New York, 1968. 189 pp. 
paper, 60c 

The notion of recording and 
playing back complete human ex- 
periences, with all sensory and emo- 
tional components, dates back at 
least as far as “The City of the 
Living Dead” of Laurance Manning 
and Fletcher Pratt (1930), but 
nobody has ever handled it a tenth 
as weU as does this English writer. 
He makes it sound technologically 
plausible, indeed inevitable, but that 
is only the beginning. What counts 
is that he uses it to raise moral 
issues, and finally even an epis- 
tomological one. 

In other words, Synthajoy is that 
rarity, a science-fiction novel which 
is About Something. 

To this end, Compton has made 
the co-inventors of Sensitape com- 
pletely a-moral men: one a physician 
deaf to everything but ambition, 
the other an engineer of the Dachau- 
guard or If-I-didn’t-do-it-somebody- 
else-would kind of conscience. 
Hence they are able not only to 
record, but to peddle any kind 
of human experience they find 
salable, from the simple sexual 
through the artistic to that of dying 
in confidence of the love of God. 

Before the story begins, both men 
have died, under ambiguous 
circumstances. The novel is told 
from the point of view of the only 
person who could know the whole 

truth, ,the physician’s wife and the 
engineer’s mistress — but she is con- 
fined for fifth degree murder and 
is herself under treatment by the 

She is an immensely real and 
moving character, and Compton lets 
her teU her tale with great skill 
and resourcefullness, sometimes a 
simple flashback, sometimes as a 
more formal, diary-like narrative, 
sometimes as a self-conscious 
fiction, somethimes as a drama, 
as a tape recording, as a film 
script, as a dream. (His ear is 
acute, and so is his sensitivity.) 
The recollections are not in 
chronological order, but instead are 
arranged for maximum mystery and 
suspense. Furthermore, they are 
constantly interrupted by present- 
time episodes of a running battle 
between the patient, her nurse and 
her psychiatrist. These episodes are 
in chronological order and furnish 
the string for the beads of memory; 
and the battle is not a diversion, 
but has a major role in the overall 
story. The sense of a momentous 
revelation being buUt up to is con- 
sistent and unfaltering. 

But .... 

Here rises the philosophical ques- 
tion. Such is the fidelity of Sensitape 
that the experiences undergone with 
it are real — as real as hearing 
music from the finest possible record 
and audio system, and as capable 
of passing into the memory as 
if they were one’s own experiences. 
And the poor woman who once 
had the key to all these events 
is under daily Sensitape treatment, 
some of it apparently malicious. 
How does she know what she 



knows? Above all, what do we 
mean by “real"? 

There is an aesthetic implica- 
tion here, too. When you finish 
this novel you will be able to 
say, “1 am another person than 
1 was yesterday.” This is one defini- 
tion of the function of art — but 
you can see even from my over- 
simplified account that Compton’s 
novel raises distrubing questions 
about it, at the same time making 
itself into an example of exactly 
that kind of experience. 

The average physical survival 
time of a paperback book under 
re-reading is six months. I suggest 
that you buy a minimum of sixty 
copies. Work of this cahbre, ladies 
and gentlemen, is what science 
fiction is for. 

Alexei Panshin: Rite of Passage. 
Ace Books A-16, New York, 1968. 
Pajjer, 254 pp., 75c 

Here is a rather similar case. 
Heinlein’s “Universe” first appeared 
in 1941, and since then a great 
many people, from Brain Aldiss 
to Ted Tubb, have taken a crack 
at the idea; 1 have myself. Panshin, 
however, has a new approach to 
the situation: What would it be 
like to grow up in such a mUieu? 
Hence this is not just another 
starship book, but a fully realized, 
lived-in world. 1 found the novel 
a little long and slow-moving for 
my taste, but I was charmed by 
its heroine. Since Mr. Panshin is 
not only an original writer, but 
a through craftsman, even the slow 
slow sections were a ^pleasure to 
read. The result is a better first 
novel than most people’s tenth. 

— ^Wm. Athehng, Jr. 

PAST MASTER, by R.A. Lafferty; 
Ace Books, New York, 1968. Paper, 

Both R.A. Lafferty and Ace Books 
have done much solid, honest good 
work and never received other than 
token appreciaton for it. This book 
is a substantial bid on the part of 
both for greater recognition, and it 
is a pleasure to give it. 

Raphael Aloysius Lafferty has 
been with us since 1960. His stories 
have been antic original pieces like 
“Nine Hundred Grandmothers” 
and “Slow Tuesday Night” that have 
readily found a home with our an- 
ual anthologists. If he has been 
neglected, I think it is partly because 
he has hidden himself behind the 
anonymity of his initials and partly 
because he has written nothing but 
short stories in a day when com- 
ment is reserved for novels. 

Ace’s sin has been uniformly 
packaged quantity. Ace was that 
daring book publisher who first 
exposed us to the work of Philip 
Dick, Roger Zelazny and Samuel 
Delany, not to mention William 
Burroughs, but the ordinary reader 
can be forgiven his failure to no- 
tice since Ace chose to treat these 
writers in much the same terms 
that it treated Robert Moore Wil- 
liams and Dwight V. Swain. 

In January of 1968, Ace began a 
new series of “Science Fiction Spe- 
cials”, the point of which was to 
present in distinctive package those 
books of which it was particularly 
proud. The first two titles, Simak’s 
Why Call Them Back from Hea- 
ven? and Schmitz’s The Witches of 
Karres, were reprints, good sturdy 
books that deserved paperback edi- 



tions but which might have been 
pubhshed by almost anyone. How- 
ever, in Past Master, R. A. Lafferty’s 
first published novel and the first 
original in the series, Ace has a 
book that gives real substance to 
its intentions* 

Past Master is an eccentric, idio- 
syncratic minor masterpiece. It 
wUl not appeal to every taste, but 
to those who can approach it, it 
offers real rewards. 

Eccentricity? The characters are 
no more than exaggerated poses, 
and every one of them talks in ex- 
actly the same enigmatic voice. 
Plot turns are arbitrary rather than 
necessary. Lafferty even writes from 
an Author Omniscient point of 
view, hopelessly out of fashion in 
these days. 

Idiosyncrasy? Lafferty’s premises 
are both conservative and Roman 
Catholic. His hero is a resurrected 
Sir Thomas More, chosen of all the 
men in history to assume the rule 
of a Utopia falling to rack. Granted 
that he invented the place, none- 
theless it must seem idiosyncratic 
for him to be chosen with no more 
than an “Of course,” and a “Well, 
why not?” 

Nonetheless, the book is a master- 
piece. It has aU of Lafiferty’s usual 
color and pyramiding of manic in- 
vention. Besides this, it offers easily 
the most real and immediate pro- 
blem of spiritual agony yet seen in 
science fiction. It offers it subtly, 
and though it offers it in Catholic 
terms, it offers it universally. I 
found the ending genuinely affect- 

Past Master is minor because its 
characters and setting are not as 

alive as its inventions and ideas. 
But it is a book that speaks well 
for Lafferty, for Ace, and for science 
fiction. May they aU yet hit their 

And when wiU someone issue a 
coUection of Lafferty short stories? 

— ^Alexei Panshin 

Damon Knight; revised edition 1967; 
308 pp., clothbound $6.00, paper 
$2.45 from Advent Publishers, 
P.O. Box 9338, Chicago lUinois 

Virtually everything to be said 
about this landmark work of criti- 
cism has already passed into pubhc 
domain; add that the revised edi- 
tion, incorporating some new ma- 
terial and reworking of the original 
criticisms seems to have even more 
relevance than the book did in 1956; 
add that Advent’s attractive paper- 
bound version now puts the book 
within reach of everyone. No prac- 
ticing professional or serious read- 
er of the form should be without it. 
Occasionally Knight seems to be 
defeated by his own facihty (. . . 
“cleaned up, these virtues might 
seem tike faults”) and sometimes a 
critical point is pressed home al- 
most to the exclusion of the work 
(his comments on J.T. McIntosh) 
but this is quibbhng; the point is 
that Damon Knight is probably 
our field’s first and best critic and 
that this book is the most important 
nonfiction ever published in the 

by Alva Rogers, 1964, 224 pages; 
clothbound $6.00, paperbound $2.45 
from Advent. 



A close, virtually issue-by-issue 
examination of ASTOUNDING from 
its near-still-birth to the December 
1949 issue when Rogers feels, the 
Golden Era of the magazine definite- 
ly ended. The criticisms are of little 
literary value and the writer is too 
attached to some material which, for 
me, represents the worst possibilities 
of the field in terms of a modem 

science-fiction but, like everybody 
else, the editor has been there, and 
like almost everybody else, he finds 
the book peculiarly compelling for 
that reason. There should have been 
even more illustrations firom the 
magazine interior and its covers; 
they evoke more nostalgia per page 
than several chapters of Rogers’ 
prose. — Barry N. Malzberg 


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